Although still regarded as a new anti-reflux procedure, the LINX™ system has been in use since 2009 worldwide and since 2011 in the UK. We were the first UK centre to implant the device and we still believe today that the LINX™ system provides an effective solution for reflux patients whilst offering fast recovery times and an immediate return to a normal diet. Patients also avoid the symptoms of gas bloating that can put people off fundoplication surgery.
The LINX™ System is a small flexible band of titanium beads linked together to form a “bracelet”around the Lower Oesophageal Sphincter (LOS), the body’s natural anti-reflux barrier. When in place the device sits snugly around the oesophagus and the magnetic attraction between the beads helps the LOS resist opening to gastric pressures, preventing reflux from the stomach into the oesophagus. However, when you swallow or when you burp/vomit, swallowing forces temporarily break the magnetic bond, allowing food and liquid to pass normally into the stomach. Magnetic attraction closes the LOS immediately after swallowing which is how a healthy LOS would work.
The surgical procedure takes about 30 minutes in total and most can be done as day cases. The device itself comes in six different sizes according to the size of your oesophagus and is implanted through the abdominal cavity via small incisions in your abdomen. The surgeon exposes the oesophagus and, having used a special sizing tool to decide on the size of LINX™ to be used, places the device around it. The device sits in a little channel created by the surgeon so no stitching is required, one of the reasons why patients enjoy such fast recovery times.
The main attractions of the LINX™ procedure are:
- Faster recovery time than other surgical options
- Return to a normal diet immediately (this is encouraged)
- Easily reversible, unlike other surgical options
- No gas bloat, unlike fundoplication
- You can burp and vomit
- Data on LINX™ outcomes is in line with the best centres for fundoplication
So, what’s the catch?
There aren’t really any catches but there are a number of things to take into account when selecting the LINX™ system over another procedure. Based on our experience and the data available LINX™ is a good anti-reflux surgery procedure. Your surgeon will explain the pros and cons of LINX™ at your consultation.
- It’s a relatively young procedure so there is no long term (10 year+) data
- There are post operative restrictions where MRI scanning is concerned
- It’s significantly more expensive than a fundoplication procedure
- Eligibility for LINX™ is more restrictive eg very few patients diagnosed with Barrett’s are eligible
To enquire about reflux surgery
Call 0845 128 0053 or
What results can I expect ?
Most patients describe an immediate improvement in their symptoms. LINX patients can eat normally immediately when they recover from the operation, usually the day after surgery. Some LINX patients experience a period of temporary dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) from 7-10 days after the device is implanted, but this can be managed and in all cases resolves after 3 months.
Will it wear out ?
The titanium beads used in the device are rare earth magnets so will maintain their magnetism throughout life. They will never wear out.
Video: Dr Ashton explains how the LINX™ device works
Video: The LINX™ device in place
This video shows an x-rayafter a bolus of food (with barium contrast) is swallowed. The LINX™ device allows the food to pass from the oesophagus to the stomach but then closes to prevent reflux of food or stomach contents upwards.