A Southampton hospital has become the first in the UK to implant a lifechanging device using robotic surgery.

Southampton General Hospital, part of University Hospital Southampton (UHS) NHS trust, recently implanted a device to treat patients with severe acid reflux disease.

Known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), the condition occurs when contents from the stomach flows back into the oesophagus – the long tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach.

Fergus Noble, consultant general and oesophagogastric surgeon at UHS, led the first operation.

He said: “We are delighted to be the first site in the south to offer this procedure to patients suffering with this chronic and debilitating condition and the first in the UK to implant it using robotic surgery.”

GORD happens when the muscular valve – the lower oesophageal sphincter – at the bottom of the oesophagus becomes weakened because it has moved too close to the diaphragm or even into the chest, which affects its function to allow food in and stop acid leaking out.

This can result in a range of symptoms including heartburn, regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, bloating, excessive salivation, coughing, nausea and a hoarse voice, as well as teeth and gum damage, nutritional problems, and sleep impairment.

The new device, RefluxStop, is fixed to the upper part of the stomach wall and blocks movement of the lower oesophageal sphincter to hold it in its original, natural position.

READ MORE: O'Neills doorstaff allegedly assaulted during England v Serbia

(Image: University Hospital Southampton)

Danielle Harding, 30, recently became the first patient to undergo the procedure at UHS.

The mum of two, from Southampton, said: “I began suffering with severe acid reflux in 2022 and it has affected my life in so many ways – anything that involves eating or drinking has caused me so much anxiety, especially outside of my home."

She added: “Then the team at the hospital offered me the option of RefluxStop, a non-active life-long implant that restores function – it seemed like a no-brainer.

“I had the surgery a little over a month ago and my symptoms have completely disappeared.

“I’m absolutely delighted and am so grateful to Fergus and the team at UHS, it has changed my life.”

Made out of medical grade rounded solid silicone, the implant measures around 25mm – smaller than a ping pong ball – and is fitted via robotic-assisted keyhole surgery as a day case, with patients in theatre for less than two hours.

Approximately 20 per cent of the adult UK population have problems with severe acid reflux or GORD and UHS treats around 50 patients every year with the condition.

Southampton General is the second site in the UK to implant RefluxStop after Imperial College London, but the first to do so using robotic surgery.