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Common fundoplication complications can include gas, difficulty swallowing, regurgitation and bloating. Other potential risks are adverse reactions to anesthesia, recurrent heartburn, bleeding and infection. Patients can reduce their risks by meticulously following care directions before and after surgery and by working with a surgeon who has a good track record on fundoplication surgeries. Patients might also want to talk to their doctors about risks that might be specific to their cases.
During a fundoplication procedure, the surgeon wraps the upper part of the stomach around the base of the esophagus to strengthen the valve that limits acid reflux into the esophagus. For patients who have severe acid reflux that resists other forms of treatment, surgery might provide considerable relief. The patient's stomach acid can stop welling up into the esophagus, and this will give it a chance to heal, resolving issues such as trouble eating, hoarseness and pain. There is a risk that the procedure will not work or will fail at some point after the surgery, but the benefits generally outweigh this possibility.
Surgeons can use an open or laparoscopic approach to this procedure. Open surgeries carry a greater risk and require a longer healing time. During surgery, fundoplication complications can include accidental severing of a blood vessel or nerve, a bad reaction to anesthesia or uncontrolled bleeding. The surgical team works hard to limit these risks, but something unpredictable happens sometimes.
Immediately after the procedure, many patients experience inflammation, pain and fatigue while they recover. After surgery, fundoplication complications such as soreness, dysphagia, bloating and gas can become an issue. For some patients, the surgery is not a success, and the acid reflux with accompanying heartburn might return. Other patients might develop infections around the surgical site. This is not necessarily because the surgeon was careless but could be the result of a random incident or poor hygiene on the patient's part immediately after surgery.In the event that a patient develops fundoplication complications, the surgeon can evaluate him or her to determine how to proceed with treatment. Some patients require medications to manage symptoms, others might need a repeat surgery to correct a problem, and some might benefit from physical therapy or other measures to improve eating and swallowing. The surgeon can refer the patient to a specialist if particular services are necessary for recovery. For patients who are concerned about the cost of fundoplication complications, insurance companies often cover care related to surgery, and financial assistance through the hospital or clinic might be available to patients who are managing complications.