Nissen’s fundoplication is the operation to treat severe gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). GORD is when the contents of your stomach, which are acidic, are brought back up into your oesophagus. The acid causes heartburn. GORD usually happens because the valve (sphincter) at the join between your oesophagus and stomach fails to work normally.
At Nissens fundoplication, the top part of your stomach is wrapped around the lower part of your oesophagus, to tighten the valve. If a hiatus hernia is also present, which is when the upper part of your stomach slides through the diaphragm into your chest, your surgeon may repair it at the same time.
There are two ways to carry out Nissens fundoplication. Your surgeon may use laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery or open surgery.
Laparoscopic (keyhole) Surgery
Five small incisions are made to your abdomen. Laparoscopic equipment, including a narrow, flexible, telescopic camera, are used to look inside your body. The camera sends images from inside your body to a monitor, which your surgeon will look at during the operation.
The surgery is carried out under a general anaesthetic, which means you will be asleep throughout and you will need to stay in hospital for up to 2 – 3 nights.
One large single incision is made in the middle of your abdomen, through which the operation is carried out. The wound is closed after the operation, using either sutures or staples.
It is normal to have slight difficulty swallowing in the first few weeks after your operation. Post-operative swelling causes this. To help with this, it is advised to eat slowly, only small mouthfuls of food. Your swallowing should return to normal after a month or so.
Any dissolvable stitches take approximately 10 days to disappear. Non-dissolvable stitches are removed at 7 – 10 days, following surgery.
It usually takes an average of six weeks to recover completely from the surgery of Nissen’s fundoplication, but this varies between individuals.