For anyone suffering from Acid Reflux Disease, there is finally relief.
Bernice Montefusco of Wallingford knew something was wrong, but for two decades doctors couldn’t figure it out.
“20 years I was having this heaviness in my diaphragm,” she said. “They couldn't help me; so I just suffered on.”
With no relief in sight, she accepted her lung problems, which resulted in bouts of pneumonia, a chronic cough, and steroids.
Then, last January she had the scare of her life.
“I couldn't catch my breath, I was really struggling to breath,” Montefusco said.
Doctors thought she had a heart attack, but she didn’t.
Lucky for her, an explanation is exactly what MidState Medical Center’s Dr. Ken Schwartz had.
“What Bernice was experiencing was a hiatal hernia--meaning some of the stomach was up in the chest. This part of the stomach should not be here. It should all be in the abdomen,” Schwartz said.
He added that 65 percent of the time, pulmonary issues like chest pains, with no evidence of heart disease, are reflux related.
“These contents that are in the stomach, come up the esophagus, come up into the throat and basically get inhaled,” Schwartz said.
That can cause significant irritation to the lungs, the larynx and other organ systems that aren’t typically associated with reflux disease.
Schwartz was able to perform a unique. Minor surgical procedure that involves taking a piece of the stomach and wrapping it around the esophagus to create an anti-reflux barrier.
“There is no cutting of anything, there is no stapling of anything--it is a rearrangement of anatomy to make it functional again,” Schwartz said.
The procedure takes about an hour and 45 minutes, and is covered by most insurance companies.
Thursday, just one month after her surgery, Montefusco said she has finally gotten her life back.
“I am so grateful. I can square dance, I can bike, and I can play with my grandchildren,” she said.
For the first time in 20 years, she can breathe a sigh of relief.
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