If you have received a positive diagnosis of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) or laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) there are a number of potential treatment options available.
These can include reflux medication, dietary changes, lifestyle changes and surgery. Surgery is considered a last resort if other measures or medication haven’t helped.
Here we look at a procedure called Stretta Therapy.
What is Stretta Therapy?
Reflux disease often results from a weak or damaged stomach muscle valve called the Lower Oesophageal Sphincter (LOS) – at the junction of the oesophagus and the stomach – which allows stomach contents to reflux into the oesophagus.
The Stretta system uses a special catheter or tube to deliver low-power and low-temperature radiofrequency energy to the muscle tissues in the LOS. This remodels the muscle tissue, strengthening it to prevent the reflux occurring.
How is the procedure carried out?
Unlike conventional surgery, Stretta Therapy does not require any incisions, stitches or implants.
Under sedation, a tube that is inserted through the mouth and down the throat places small needles into the muscle of the LOS valve.
This delivers several radiofrequency waves to the muscle, warming the tissue.
The procedure is typically carried out under sedation and takes approximately 60 minutes to perform. Usually, patients can return to normal activities the following day.
Who is it suitable for?
Stretta Therapy is recommended only for people aged over 18 years and those who have had symptoms of heartburn, regurgitation, or both for six months or more; whose condition has been partially or completely unresponsive to medication; and who have declined laparoscopic fundoplication.
Where is it available?
In the UK, Stretta is available in private clients and more than 10 NHS centres, including St George’s in London and Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
Since Respiratory Technology Corporation (Restech) acquired the assets to Stretta from Mederi Therapeutics in 2018, the availability of the procedure has increased across the US. Restech also owns Reflux Band, Dx-pH System and also offers Peptest to US customers via its PepsinCheck website.
How effective is it?
Scores of clinical studies have demonstrated that Stretta is a safe and well-tolerated treatment for reflux.
It has the lowest reported complication rate of any non-drug option for reflux disease.
Studies have shown Stretta Therapy helps reduce incidents of LOS relaxation and increases the valve’s thickness due to muscle growth and the sphincter getting thicker and stronger, reducing spontaneous reflux.
A 10-year patient follow-up yielded high patient satisfaction scores, a reduced need for medication and no serious adverse effects.
A 2020 study concluded that the Stretta procedure is relatively safe and effective in the management of non-erosive reflux disease and can improve both subjective and objective outcomes compared to PPI treatment in short-term follow-ups.
Are there any issues or disadvantages?
Following Stretta therapy there may be pain in the chest or upper abdomen, but this typically improves in three to five days.
There are limited international studies involving Stretta and more multicentre, randomised, controlled trials with more samples and long-term follow-ups would be needed for a definitive conclusion.
An early and objective diagnosis of reflux, such as Peptest provides, opens the door to lifestyle changes, and future treatment. Peptest can also be used after reflux treatments to assess the success or failure of any treatment. Find out more about Peptest and order your Peptest home testing kit now.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for information only and is not an endorsement of the Stretta procedure. You should always consult your doctor prior to undertaking any treatment for reflux. This blog content was last updated in November 2020.