Partial fundoplication prevents pulmonary fibrosis & allows woman to be active again

September 26, 2022

As an active woman in her 50s, Sandy White of Colorado Springs, never thought she would be dealing with a chronic cough.  Sandy had trained and competed in marathons, practiced yoga, and enjoyed a healthy, active lifestyle.

“Being outside and enjoying the beauty of Colorado was a huge part of my life. I was healthy and athletic and adhered to my regular doctor checkups and tests.” says Sandy.

So, twelve years ago at the age of 50, Sandy made an appointment for a routine colonoscopy – of which her doctor also recommended a baseline endoscopy given she was starting to experience heartburn symptoms. The results of the endoscopy didn’t show anything life-altering, just minor symptoms of acid reflux. As a result, Sandy started taking Prilosec every day to help alleviate her symptoms.

But then six years later, Sandy started to experience a chronic cough that would inevitably lead to bronchitis or pneumonia. Her health was on the decline – something that was completely abnormal to her given her healthy habits. After meeting with a pulmonologist and an ENT and completing allergy testing, scoping, oral steroids and half of dozen inhalers, Sandy was disheartened – nothing alleviated, her now chronic, cough.

“I couldn’t get through a sentence without coughing. I spent my entire day and night coughing – it was exhausting, and I was discouraged. I struggled to even have a phone conversation with my children. I couldn’t take a deep breath without coughing. And during the days of COVID-19 and after, it was hard to leave the house given that “coughing” was the major symptom of COVID – people would stare.”

Sandy was desperate to find out a solution and to get her life back. Given what she thought were mild acid reflux symptoms from her previous endoscopy, Sandy’s pulmonologist finally recommended seeing Dr. Ashwin Kurian of Centura Health’s Center for Heartburn and Reflux at Porter Hospital as a last-ditch effort to find a cure. “When I would lay down at bedtime, my stomach acids were leaking into my lungs. The Prilosec wasn’t even touching it nor were the inhaled steroids. I was on a medicine regime so complicated that I had to write everything down and keep track of it. I was more than willing to see Dr. Kurian and his team,” says Sandy.

It turns out that the recommendation would be life changing. Through additional testing, including monitoring the backward flow of stomach acid, Dr. Kurian diagnosed Sandy with severe acid reflux and a small hernia. The reflux was so bad that not only was it eating away her esophagus, but it was also causing inflammation in her lungs which could lead to pulmonary fibrosis – a condition where the lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred. Dr. Kurian recommended surgery and on January 25, 2021, Sandy underwent a procedure called a partial fundoplication at Porter Hospital.

“I trusted Dr. Kurian implicitly and knew I couldn’t go on like this any longer. The surgery was a huge success, my coughing stopped immediately. After the recovering period, I was back to yoga, biking and walking my dog without a single cough,
 says Sandy. “Dr. Kurian is the nicest man on the face of the earth – he’s so kind and sincere. Not once did I feel scared under his care. He’s an expert in his field and I’d recommend him to anyone who’s suffering from a chronic cough. It doesn’t hurt to get it checked – it could change your life.”

Whether you’re experiencing your first bout of heartburn, or you’ve suffered from acid reflux for years without finding a solution, the expert gastroenterologists and GI surgeons at the Porter Center for Heartburn and Reflux (CHR) in Denver are here to help. Call 303-765-3581 to schedule your appointment today.