By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – It is one of the most common health problems and it’s called everything from heartburn to acid reflux. A procedure approved by the FDA last year is now getting positive feedback.

Roy Gernhardt of Hanson couldn’t eat any highly acidic foods like tomatoes or lemonade. “It just hurt to swallow.” In fact, figuring out what to eat every day, and managing the pain, was a challenge for Gernhardt. “You get the bulk antacids and you keep it in the glove compartment of every one of your cars. You keep one in your desk at work. You keep one beside your bed.”

That’s how sufferers of acid reflux or GERD live. The stomach produces too much acid and it comes back up irritating the esophagus.

“About 44%of Americans get reflux at least monthly, and least 7% of Americans get reflux on a daily basis,” explained Dr. Hiran Fernando, chief of thoracic surgery at Boston Medical Center.

The most common treatment involves so called proton pump inhibitors which reduce the production of stomach acid. They are popular drugs known as Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, and Protonix.

“Nothing really worked for me, “said Gernhardt. He became one of the first patients at BMC to try a new procedure involving a device called “Linx”. He says he feels 100% better.

Lynx is a tiny necklace of beaded magnetics that is surgically placed around the esophagus.

Dr. Fernando explained how it works: “As you swallow . . . food will come down, and then boom, the things opens and then it closes.”

By closing after the food passes, Lynx prevents stomach acid from coming back up into the esophagus.

Lynx received FDA approval last year. Remarkably, studies show that after the procedure, 93% of patients no longer needed any medication at all.

This is all very encouraging for Gernhardt, who feared the future. “I had a 30-35% chance of dying of esophageal cancer, by the time I am 65, with the constant reflux.”

But now you could say the lemons life gave Gernhardt have turned into lemonade.

“My kids have always liked lemonade. We’ve always kept fresh lemon juice in the fridge, and they make lemonade and now I understand why they like it,” said Gernhardt with a big smile.

The procedure is usually covered by insurance, but not all patients are suitable for the device.

To learn more and find doctors who use the Lynx in our area, go to

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Paula Ebben

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