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New 'bead' treatment for heartburn

March 7, 2013 at 9:16 PM   |   Comments

PHOENIX, March 7 (UPI) -- The Mayo Clinic in Arizona has a new treatment for select patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as heartburn, officials say.

Dr. Kristi Harold said the treatment involves a minimally invasive procedure -- a small ring of magnetic beads is inserted around the end of a patient's esophagus.

Swallowing temporarily breaks the magnetic bond between the beads, so food can enter the stomach, but the magnetic attraction then causes the beads to close so acid can't flow into the esophagus, Harold said.

The LINX Reflux Management System, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012, is made of titanium magnetic beads that are pliant enough to stretch and contract. The procedure typically takes less than an hour.

"This procedure shows promise as an option for patients who do not respond well to lifestyle changes or who want an alternative to medications," Harold said in a statement. "Left untreated, gastroesophageal reflux disease can lead to Barrett's esophagus, which increases the risk for esophageal cancer."

The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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