Aspirus Iron River first hospital in world to view anti-reflux valve in awake patient

Aspirus Iron River Hospital & Clinics is proud to be the first hospital in the world to view a post TIF (transoral incisionless fundoplication) valve in an awake patient without a flexible endoscopy procedure. The TIF procedure is a minimally invasive surgery that corrects the root cause of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and helps to prevent future problems with acid reflux.

In July 2022, Aspirus Iron River announced the latest and greatest technology with the introduction of the high-tech NaviCam® Magnetically Controlled Capsule Endoscopy System (AnX Robotica, Plano, Texas). With this system, patients swallow an ingestible capsule containing a pill-sized video camera. The camera wirelessly captures images of the mucosa – the lining of the esophagus and stomach. Using a robotic controller located outside the patient, the physician can magnetically control the capsule’s location and viewing direction, allowing for a complete and accurate examination of the stomach. The procedure requires no sedation, so patients can go back to normal activity following the exam.

“Prior to the NaviCam®, being able to see a previous procedure would have been done by sedating the patient and placing a flexible endoscope across the valve,” said David Lorenson, Manager – Surgical Services. “This new breakthrough has never been done and the medical community has never seen the gastroesophageal valve (between the esophagus and stomach) in its natural collapsed status without endoscopy.”

Lorenson enjoyed the great privilege of delivering a podium presentation about this momentous experience at the Emerging Technology Session of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) 2023 annual meeting in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on March 30.

According to Medhat Fanous, MD, director of the anti-reflux program at Aspirus Iron River Hospital & Clinics, visualizing the surgically reconstructed gastroesophageal valve in awake patients and comparing it to the original valve will help surgeons refine the surgical technique.

Anti-reflux surgery deals with the root cause of reflux by recreating the gastroesophageal valve. Medications may offer symptom control but they do not prevent reflux as they simply provide a chemical solution to a mechanical problem.

Discussion of GERD is particularly relevant in April, which is esophageal cancer awareness month. Persistent reflux should not be ignored as it can lead to esophageal cancer.

“We are thrilled that we can comprehensively diagnose and treat reflux using cutting-edge technology in a rural hospital in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan,” Dr. Fanous said.

“This is a truly history-making moment,” said Rae Kaare, chief administrative officer. “Our patients can have the stomach visualized while awake, without sedation risks, need for a driver or discontinuation of blood thinners”.

For more information on anti-reflux, NaviCam® Stomach System examinations or Aspirus Iron River surgical services, call 906-265-6121 or visit