When a person with this device swallows food, pressure within the esophagus pushes the food down. When it reaches the bracelet of magnetic beads, the pressure causes the magnetic force between each bead to lessen. The bracelet then pops open, food passes into the stomach, and the magnetic force pulls the bracelet closed again.
Surgery to implant the device usually lasts one to two hours. The procedure is minimally invasive and typically requires only an overnight hospital stay. Recovery takes about a week. Some individuals report difficulty swallowing with the device in place. But for most people, that fades over time. The bracelet is designed to be a permanent solution for GERD. So unless there are problems, it is not removed.
A recent study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, followed 100 people who had this treatment for three years. Ninety-two of the people in the study reported fewer GERD symptoms. Eighty-seven percent of the study participants were able to completely stop using acid-lowering medications, and 94 percent reported being satisfied with the treatment.
In March 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the device for treatment of GERD in the United States. If you have GERD and daily antacid is not enough to control your symptoms, this treatment may be a good fit for you. Talk to your doctor or contact a physician who specializes in GERD to learn more. — C. Daniel Smith, M.D., Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla.