Western Wisconsin Health offers the latest treatment options for heartburn and chronic acid reflux disease. Frequent or constant heartburn is the most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — a disease in which stomach acid (or occasionally bile) flows back (refluxes) into the esophagus. Mild heartburn discomfort can often be managed with lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medications, but if the heartburn is more severe, additional care may be needed to achieve more permanent or long-term relief.

If you are experiencing any of the following heartburn-related symptoms on a daily basis, you should seek medical attention:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain or burning in your chest or throat
  • Chronic cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Sore throat

Conditions we see

  • Barrett’s Esophagus
  • Diverticulosis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Heartburn
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Esophageal spasm
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Inguinal hernia
  • Gallstones
  • Gastric cancer
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Peptic ulcer disease

Procedures we perform

  • LINX® procedure
  • Colon cancer screening
  • Nissen fundoplication (or lap nissen) procedure
  • Treatment for weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES)
  • Bravo pH monitoring
  • Sigmoidoscopy (anoscopy, proctoscopy)
  • Colonoscopy
  • Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy
  • Upper gastrointestinal (UGI) series
  • Endoscopic evaluation
  • Contrast and floristic diagnostic studies
  • Intestinal transit study

The best way to determine heartburn and acid reflux treatment options is to make an appointment with Dr. Peter Dahlberg, General Surgeon, at Western Wisconsin Health by calling our 24-hour appointment scheduling line at 715-684-1111.

Make an Appointment

Outpatient Collection Hours

Monday – Friday 7:00 am – 7:00 pm

Saturday 8:00 am – 12:00 pm (Limited services provided, call ahead to make an appointment)

Imagine getting rid of your acid reflux, protecting your health, and improving your quality of life. That’s the premise behind LINX® Reflux Management System is a laparoscopic procedure that eliminates the symptoms caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In February 2019, general surgeons Peter Dahlberg, M.D. of Western Wisconsin Health and Ranjit Singh, M.D. of Hudson Physicians began performing the LINX® procedure at Western Wisconsin Health.

Understanding GERD

The lower esophageal sphincter acts as a barrier to the reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus. By opening, it allows food and liquid to enter your stomach when you swallow. The sphincter should close after the food has passed, but this process is flawed in patients with GERD, causing heartburn, chest pain, regurgitation, and other problems. Over time, damage from stomach acid can even lead to changes in the esophageal lining that are associated with a higher-than-average risk for developing esophageal cancer.

Medications used to manage GERD decrease stomach acid production and usually eliminate symptoms of heartburn. However, they do not stop reflux from occurring, and long-term use can occasionally lead to serious health problems.

“Often when I meet patients for the first time, they don’t know that there are other options beyond medication,” says Dr. Dahlberg.

According to Dr. Singh, the first steps toward relief are simple. “We try all the conservative measures first – diet, lifestyle modifications, and medication. If reflux symptoms persist, patients are screened with an endoscopy to gauge the severity of the reflux, the presence of a hiatal hernia, and any other associated stomach or esophageal conditions. Patients who are considering surgical treatments undergo pH testing and manometry to determine if they are a candidate for LINX® surgery.”

How LINX® Works

The LINX® procedure uses a flexible ring about the size of a quarter. Made of magnetic beads, this ring is surgically implanted around the esophagus after any hiatal hernia that is present is repaired. Once it’s placed, the device strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter and prevents reflux. The surgery does not alter the stomach anatomy to the extent that other anti-reflux procedures, such as the Nissen fundoplication, do.

Most patients go home after surgery or after one night in the hospital and they resume their normal routine and diet within a few days. In fact, many enjoy foods they previously couldn’t tolerate with GERD. The device is designed to last a lifetime, but if it does not operate properly or is not tolerated by the patient, it can be removed.

Outcomes and Considerations

“There will always be a place for Nissen fundoplication, but LINX® is becoming more popular because it’s a more elegant way to treat the reflux problem,” Dr. Singh explains.

The LINX® device has demonstrated good clinical outcomes since being approved by the FDA in 2012. In most studies, 85 percent of patients no longer depended on daily medication after surgery, and 90 percent are free from regurgitation and heartburn a full five years after surgery.

“The main side effect with LINX® is dysphasia (difficulty swallowing), but within three months of surgery, there’s less than one percent chance of that,” says Dr. Dahlberg.

Another concern that some patients have about LINX® is MRI compatibility. The device is compatible with the newer MRIs found in 94 percent of hospitals in America, and although every patient is given an implant card to carry in their wallet, going through airport security does not present problems.

Are You a Candidate?

If you have chronic heartburn or other reflux symptoms that do not respond to lifestyle changes or medications or you want to avoid the risk of taking PPIs, LINX® may be a good treatment option.

New Beginnings

With reflux problems resolved, patients are surprised how much more enjoyable life can be. “Some of my happiest patients are those who no longer have to worry about reflux or regurgitation and can once again savor their meals,” says Dr. Dahlberg.

Related Services

Surgical Services
Integrative Health Services

What People Are Saying

I’m so glad to be a part of the Western WI Health community. Truly lifesaving for me.

“Dr. Clemma Nash and her functional medicine expertise is outstanding. I’ve seen her a few times for exposure to toxic mold and her knowledge has given me my life back. Not only has the functional medicine saved me, but Dr. Nash’s compassion, listening skills and gentle way has been such a gift for my health. I’m so glad to be a part of the Western WI Health community. Truly lifesaving for me.”

Functional Medicine Patient

I am thankful that there are such good care providers so close to home!

“Just brought my daughter in to see Sara Atteberry, NP, and wow!!! She was thorough, kind, gentle, and smart! What a great addition to WWH. I was very comforted in the care and compassion she showed to my daughter. I am thankful that there are such good care providers so close to home!”

Shayni, Pediatric Patient

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“We had a long, tough labor, but we couldn’t be happier! The entire staff was so incredibly amazing. They made a very exhausting two days much better with their warm support, encouraging words, and wonderful knowledge. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are SO blessed to have Western Wisconsin Health in our community.”

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