Elaine McCray thought she’d be living with pain for the rest of her life. She’d had GERD (short for gastroesophageal reflux disease) for 15 years. It had caused burning and stabbing pains in her chest, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, and a gurgling in her throat.
“After all these years of taking all of these different medications and changing my eating habits, nothing got better,” she says.
The pain was so intense at times that it landed her in the emergency room. “One time I was supposed to get on a plane but didn’t because I was balled up on the floorboard of my husband’s truck on the way to the airport,” she remembers. “He said, ‘There’s no way I can let you get on a plane like this.’”
Unfortunately, Elaine’s condition wasn’t properly diagnosed and treated by doctors in Nebraska, where she lived at the time. They gave Elaine a range of medications that weren’t ideal for long-term use and came with many different side effects.
A new home in Texas and a new hope at Methodist Mansfield
It wasn’t until Elaine moved to Mansfield that she found relief. Two doctors on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, gastroenterologist Muhammad Memon, MD, and general surgeon Jeremy Parcells, MD, found the root cause of her GERD: a hiatal hernia. It’s a condition in which the top part of the stomach slides upward through an opening in the diaphragm, which then allows stomach acid to come into the esophagus.
First, the Methodist Mansfield surgical team fixed the hiatal hernia endoscopically using the robotic da Vinci® Surgical System. They then performed transoral incisionless fundoplication, or TIF. In this procedure, doctors reinforce the barrier between the esophagus and stomach using tissue from the upper part of the stomach, doubling it over, and then suturing it into place. This prevents acid from bubbling up into the esophagus and causing problems.
“A significant portion of the population has reflux and hiatal hernias,” Dr. Parcells says. “Medications are usually used to treat the symptoms of the condition, but they can mask a structural problem.
“Patients have great results from these anti-reflux procedures and hiatal hernia corrections, plus people don’t want to be on maintenance medication for 30 or 40 years,” he explains. “Some of my patients’ biggest regret is that they didn’t have the surgery sooner.”
Finally free to live
Now, Elaine is symptom-free, off medications, and able to eat all the foods she had given up.
“My husband and I love to cook, have a glass of wine, and entertain friends, and I can do all of that again,” she says. “Moving to Texas and Methodist Mansfield were godsends for me. I remember thinking, ‘Where have you been all my life?’”
WATCH: After 15 years of suffering with GERD, Elaine McCray can now eat anything she wants thanks to doctors at Methodist Mansfield.
WHAT ELSE CAN DA VINCI DO?
Learn more about the robotic procedures available at Methodist Mansfield.