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Ed Yeates reporting There's new hope now for millions of people suffering from a chronic condition most know as "gastric reflux."
For the first time in Utah, doctors injected a liquid polymer into a Taylorsville woman to repair the malfunctioning valve between her stomach and esophagus.
Judy Davis has tried everything to quell heartburn and burning from reflux acid in her esophagus and throat.
Her soprano voice is now muffled from the effects of that reflux.
JUDY DAVIS, PATIENT: "I WAS ON NEXIUM. IT DID NOTHING. THEN HE PUT ME ON PRILOSEC. RIGHT NOW, I'M MAXED OUT ON MEDICATION"
But today, physicians at Pioneer Valley Hospital did a simple outpatient procedure that might cure her problem forever.
Dr. Martin Radwin ran a scope and catheter down her throat, injecting small amounts of a liquid polymer deep inside what is called the esophageal sphincter.
As demonstrated here, the polymer expands and solidifies - producing a circular implant inside the muscle - making it compliant again. The valve opens naturally, allowing food to pass through while closing to keep stomach acid where it belongs.
MARTIN RADWIN, M.D., GASTRONETEROLOGIST, PIONEER VALLEY HOSPITAL: "WE KNOW THE IMPLANT STAYS IN PLACE AND WE'RE HOPING THAT THE SCAR TISSUE WHICH OF COURSE IS PERMANENT, WILL CREATE A PERMANENT AFFECT ON THAT SPHINCTER."
Judy is sedated but conscious. After the procedure, she goes home. She won't notice a real change for about a month.
Results of clinical trials sent to the FDA - which has now approved the procedure - are impressive.
70 percent of the patients no longer needed acid reduction medications. Another ten percent decreased their need by more than 50 percent. That's an overall 80 percent success rate.
For patients like Judy Davis..
DAVIS: "I FEEL KIND OF HOPEFUL THAT THIS IS GOING TO TAKE CARE OF THE PROBLEM. I CAN'T WAIT TO BE ABLE TO TALK AGAIN."
Physicians say the incidence of reflux disease has now reached epidemic proportions - with a dramatic increase in hospitalizations over the past 30 years.