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Newton, MA 02462
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Natick, MA 01760
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Newton Centre, MA 02459
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978 Worcester Road (rte 9)
Wellesley, Massachusetts 02482
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25 Washington Street
Wellesley, Massachusetts 02481
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NEWTON, Mass. (April, 2019) – Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – commonly referred to as heartburn or acid reflux – affects about 20% of the U.S. population. If left untreated, it can lead to numerous health issues, including esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus and problems swallowing and breathing.
Fifty-five-year-old Joanne Butler of Natick knows it all too well. Butler had been suffering from severe acid reflux and heartburn for 20 years, but after years of trying numerous medications to relieve her discomfort, she decided it was time to put an end to this serious and disruptive condition. Butler sought the help of Newton-Wellesley Hospital’s (NWH) Heartburn and Reflux Program.
Under the leadership of Richard L. Curtis, MD, Chief of Gastroenterology, Benjamin Levitzky, MD, and Charudutt Paranjape, MD, Chief of General Surgery and Acute Care Surgery, the new Heartburn and Reflux Program brings together gastroenterologists, surgeons, dietitians, radiologists, physician assistants and nurse navigators—a team of specialists—who collaborate to create a customized treatment plan for each patient to help manage and eliminate heartburn, reflux, and other symptoms of GERD.
Butler was diagnosed with paraesophageal hernia, a condition that causes a portion of the stomach to protrude into the chest cavity. “I got to the point where I couldn’t bend forward without experiencing extreme burning and pressure. Turns out 75% of my stomach was pushed up into my chest, which, as you can imagine, made it hard to breathe,” said Butler.
After dietary adjustments and medication control didn’t relieve her severe symptoms, it was determined that minimally invasive surgery was the best option for Butler. “When we traveled, my husband and son had to give me all of their pillows so that I could prop myself up. I had to constantly sleep in an upright position, but not anymore. I can finally lie down flat without discomfort. The surgery with Dr. Paranjape has completely changed my life.”
“GERD is an anatomical problem that sometimes needs an anatomical solution,” said Dr. Paranjape. “Reflux medication like PPIs (proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec and Nexium) can help relieve patient’s symptoms but don’t solve the underlying problem or prevent further disease progression.”
Furthermore, in recent studies, prolonged use of antacids has been shown to be linked to inadequate absorption of minerals, chronic kidney disease, and dementia. Even on PPIs, many patients are still unable to eat the foods they want or are forced to sleep sitting up to reduce nighttime reflux. For some patients, surgery is the only option for relief.
Approximately 80 percent of patients with recurring heartburn symptoms are likely to benefit from medical and therapeutic treatments for GERD. For that reason, the Heartburn and Reflux Program is focused on offering patients a combination of treatment approaches, which may include diet and lifestyle adjustments, medication control and the latest diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Our nationally-acclaimed gastroenterologists, led by Dr. Curtis, are experts in diagnosing and treating these patients. In addition, Dr. Levitzky has specialized expertise in radiofrequency ablation, a procedure used to treat patients with Barrett’s esophagus.
An exciting state-of-the-art option that Newton-Wellesley is now offering for the first time is TIF (transoral incisionless fundoplication), an incisionless, life-changing procedure to repair a faulty esophageal valve responsible for many patients’ GERD symptoms. Dr. Paranjape is a leading expert in TIF, and NWH is among the first hospitals in MA to provide this innovative procedure to patients. Drs. Paranjape and Levitzky recently, and successfully, performed the first TIF procedure for reflux at Newton-Wellesley.
In those instances when surgery is needed, the team – led by Dr. Paranjape – offers the most advanced surgical solutions including laparoscopic and robotic surgery.
For Butler, it’s now about getting back to doing the things she loved. “I feel incredible…I lost 25 pounds, stopped all medications, doing lots of walking and can actually sleep lying flat! It’s amazing how much the return of the little things can have such a big impact.”
Newton-Wellesley Hospital is a full system member of Partners HealthCare System, Inc. (PHCS), a nonprofit organization that includes acute care hospitals Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's/Faulkner Hospitals, and The North Shore Medical Center.
Serving its community for over 130 years, Newton-Wellesley Hospital (NWH) provides a wide range of services, including medical, surgical, obstetric and gynecological, cardiovascular, emergency, orthopaedic, neonatal, pediatric, hematology/oncology and psychiatric care—with a medical staff of over 1,000 physicians practicing a full range of specialties. NWH is a major teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine and has established post-graduate training programs for Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital residents, teaching hospitals of Harvard Medical School.
For more information about the Heartburn and Reflux Program at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, or to schedule an appointment with a physician, call 617.964.GERD (4373) or visit www.nwh.org/heartburn.
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