Transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF) is a surgical procedure that treats acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The TIF procedure can be an effective alternative to more invasive traditional methods.

A doctor can advise whether a person is a suitable candidate for the TIF procedure or if they recommend any other treatments for GERD or acid reflux.

This article provides an overview of the TIF procedure, including benefits and risks.

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The TIF procedure treats GERD and its symptoms, such as regurgitation.

Regurgitation is when stomach acid flows back up the esophagus, causing symptoms such as heartburn.

Learn about GERD.

During the TIF procedure, a surgeon uses an endoscope and a specialized device called the “TIF device.”

The surgeon uses these instruments to view the esophagus through the mouth. They use suction to pull the esophagogastric junction inward. This junction is where the stomach connects to the esophagus.

The surgeon then uses the TIF device to insert polymer fasteners, which create a fold in the serous membrane tissues.

The process creates a valve between the stomach and the esophagus. This way, if there is reflux of gastric contents, they do not travel up into the esophagus.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) originally approved the TIF procedure for people with chronic GERD that was responsive to proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications.

TIF may now also be suitable for people with chronic GERD symptoms that are either not fully responsive or responsive to acid-suppressive medications and who do not want to take long-term medication.

It is best to contact a doctor for advice if a person wishes to discuss the TIF procedure for GERD.

A person’s doctor can advise them on any specific steps they need to take to prepare for the TIF procedure. General steps can include:

  • not eating or drinking a certain amount of time before the procedure
  • discussing any current medication with your doctor
  • arranging for someone to take you home after the procedure

It is also a good idea to discuss any concerns or questions with the doctor beforehand. They can answer any questions a person has, which may help them feel more prepared for the procedure.

Recovery from TIF is generally much faster than after other, more traditional methods of surgery for GERD.

People are likely to experience some discomfort below the sternum and into the chest. They may also experience shoulder discomfort due to irritation in the phrenic nerves. The phrenic nerves control the diaphragm and extend into the shoulders. However, this discomfort typically resolves within 1 week.

Other complications, such as bloating or swallowing difficulties, are rare.

However, a person should inform their doctor of any side effects or complications they experience after the TIF procedure. Their doctor can advise on ways to manage these side effects.

Research from 2021 shows the TIF procedure normalized heartburn in 73% of participants and regurgitation in 86% of participants.

Because TIF is relatively new, there is limited research into the long-term outcomes of the surgery.

A person’s doctor can advise on how effective the TIF procedure may be for the person and whether they recommend it based on the person’s circumstances.

Possible risks of the TIF procedure include:

  • epigastric pain, which is pain in the mid to upper abdomen
  • pain in the left shoulder
  • irritation in the pharynx
  • dysphagia, which is difficulty swallowing
  • fever
  • gas bloating
  • nausea
  • vomiting, including hematemesis, or vomiting blood
  • mucosal tear
  • pneumonia

Additionally, serious complications may include:

  • pleural effusion
  • mediastinitis, which is inflammation of the chest cavity
  • abscess
  • perforation or tear in the esophagus

A person’s doctor can advise on ways to reduce the risks of the TIF procedure and recommend any treatments if side effects occur.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the TIF procedure.

How painful is the TIF procedure?

The TIF procedure can cause some discomfort for about 1 week afterward.

How does the TIF procedure work?

The TIF procedure works by creating a valve that prevents the stomach contents from rising into the esophagus.

Can you still burp after the TIF procedure?

According to a small 2021 study, 90% of people can still burp, or belch, at nearly 5 years’ median follow-up.

Transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF) is a procedure in which a surgeon creates a valve between the stomach and esophagus to stop gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and its associated symptoms.

A surgeon creates this valve by passing an inspection instrument and surgical rod through the mouth and down the esophagus. They then insert fasteners to create folds in the mucosal lining of the passage.

The TIF procedure is less invasive than more traditional options. It has a shorter recovery period and a lower chance of complications.

It is a relatively new procedure, so there is limited research on the long-term outcomes of the surgery. However, studies indicate that the operation may remain successful and effective in the long term.