By Alison Trinidad

For most people, acid reflux is an occasional nuisance tamed by an over-the-counter antacid. For more than 15 million Americans, however, it is an intractable, daily battle that could lead to esophageal cancer if left untreated.

Todd Cogle, 37, stopped eating spicy foods, chocolate and caffeine to avoid the miserable burning sensation. He slept sitting up and tried every over-the-counter and prescribed remedy available. After more than 10 years of suffering the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or chronic heartburn, Todd was at the end of his rope.

“It’s been years of frustration,” the Northern California police officer recalls. “I had to take medication every day, but I didn’t want to take medicine for the rest of my life. It had gotten worse in the last year, causing me to lose my voice. I was having trouble breathing. But, my main concern — well, the pink slip is cancer.”

Then Todd found John Lipham, MD, associate professor of surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. And, now, Todd is able to enjoy food again — all thanks to a new outpatient procedure at Keck Medicine of USC.

“The LINX has resolved 95 percent or more of my acid reflux issues,” Cogle says. “I wish I would have done it sooner.”

The LINX® Reflux Management System is a magnetic bracelet that is laparoscopically placed around the end of the esophagus to help stop reflux. Implantation of the device is potentially an outpatient procedure that can be completed in 15 to 20 minutes.

Todd learned about the procedure on the Internet, but could not find a doctor in Northern California who had experience with the device. The device manufacturer referred him to Dr. Lipham, who led clinical investigation of the LINX at USC as part of his ongoing work to find alternative ways to treat GERD. Lipham has successfully implanted more than 100 LINX devices in people since 2009, the highest volume of experience with the device in the Western United States.

For more information about the LINX Reflux Management System at Keck Medicine of USC, call (323) 442-6868 or visit http://www.keckmedicine.org/gerd/. To make an appointment, call 800-USC-CARE (800-872-2273).