Patricia Pillion: “I Feel Like I Won the Lottery”

A new life thanks to LINX

For Northern Kentucky resident Patricia Pillion, severe acid reflux was affecting every aspect of her life – work, eating, even sleep.

“I’d wake up in the middle of the night and food would be coming up. I’d sleep propped up by three pillows just to try to keep everything down,” says Patricia. “If my husband and I wanted to go out to dinner, I’d have to double up on my medication to try to enjoy my meal – and sometimes that wouldn’t even work.”

Patricia was on acid suppression medication for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) for more than 10 years, taking it religiously. She eliminated all “trigger” foods – such as her beloved spicy food – from her diet, but her reflux problem only continued to grow.

“I was burping and belching and food would be coming back up more and more frequently,” says Patricia. “It was really impacting my quality of life.”

A customer service representative who works nights, Patricia was worried about the amount of medication she was taking – and that it wasn’t seeming to make a difference. She made an appointment with her gastroenterologist and asked him about surgical options.

Patricia was referred to Dr. Valerie Williams, who is the only surgeon in the region to offer LINX, a minimally invasive procedure for patients with GERD.

“Patricia was a great candidate for LINX,” says Dr. Williams. “She had persistent symptoms despite medications and would really benefit from a long-term solution.”

The LINX device is the size of a quarter and designed to take the place of a patient’s reflux barrier. The bracelet-shaped circle of magnetic titanium beads opens and closes to let food down, but prevents stomach acid from coming back up into the esophagus. The LINX is implanted laparoscopically, a surgical procedure which uses long instruments and a camera. It begins working immediately.

“As soon as I woke up from the surgery, I felt 100 percent better,” says Patricia. “It’s been a year and a half since my LINX surgery and I haven’t had one symptom or needed to take any medication. I can eat whatever I want – my spicy food is back! I feel like I won the lottery.”

Dr. Williams has seen this level of success in a vast majority of her LINX patients. Officially, the data shows that 85 percent of LINX patients are off daily acid suppression medications. Dr. Williams has seen an even higher success rate in her own patients – over 90% percent of her LINX patients are off daily medication, helping them live an acid reflux-free life.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t know how lucky I am that I had the LINX surgery,” says Patricia. “Life-changing is the word I use.”

St. Elizabeth is holding two events on June 16 and June 20 for patients to learn more about the medical and surgical treatment of GERD. Registration is available here.