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DESCRIPTIONA laparoscopically implanted ring composed of interlinked titanium beads with magnetic cores has been developed for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The device is placed around the esophagus at the level of the gastroesophageal junction and is being evaluated in patients who have GERD symptoms despite maximum medical therapy.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is defined as reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus that causes symptoms and/or mucosal injury. GERD is a common medical disorder, with estimates of 10-20% prevalence in developed countries. The severity of GERD is widely variable. Many patients have mild, intermittent symptoms that do not require treatment or only require episodic use of medications. Other patients have chronic, severe GERD that can lead to complications such as Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer. For patients with severe disease, chronic treatment with acid blockers is one option. For some patients, medications are not adequate to control symptoms, and other patients prefer to avoid the use of indefinite, possibly lifelong medications. Surgical treatments are available for these patients, primarily a Nissen fundoplication performed either laparoscopically or by open surgery. A number of less invasive procedures are also being evaluated as an intermediate option between medical therapy and surgery.
The LINX™ Reflux Management System (Torax Medical) is composed of a small flexible band of 10 to 18 interlinked titanium beads with magnetic cores. Using standard laparoscopic techniques, the band is placed around the esophagus at the level of the gastroesophageal junction. The magnetic attraction between the beads is intended to augment the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent gastric reflux into the esophagus, without compressing the esophageal wall. It is proposed that swallowing food or liquids creates sufficient pressure to overcome the magnetic bond between the beads, allowing the beads to separate and temporarily increase the size of the ring. The target population is patients who have GERD symptoms despite maximum medical therapy (e.g., proton pump inhibitors) but who do not want to risk the adverse effects of a surgical procedure like Nissen fundoplication. Adverse events of the LINX™ Reflux Management System may include dysphagia or odynophagia. The device can be removed by a laparoscopic procedure if severe adverse events occur or if magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is needed for another condition.
The LINX™ Reflux Management System was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012. The LINX™ device is indicated for patients diagnosed with GERD, as defined by abnormal pH testing, and who continue to have chronic GERD symptoms despite maximum therapy for the treatment of reflux. The FDA has required 5-year follow-up of 100 patients from the investigational device exemption (IDE) pivotal study to evaluate safety and efficacy of the device.
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POLICYAn implantable magnetic esophageal ring to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is investigational.
POLICY EXCEPTIONSFederal Employee Program (FEP) may dictate that all FDA-approved devices, drugs or biologics may not be considered investigational and thus these devices may be assessed only on the basis of their medical necessity.
POLICY GUIDELINESInvestigative service is defined as the use of any treatment procedure, facility, equipment, drug, device, or supply not yet recognized by certifying boards and/or approving or licensing agencies or published peer review criteria as standard, effective medical practice for the treatment of the condition being treated and as such therefore is not considered medically necessary.
The coverage guidelines outlined in the Medical Policy Manual should not be used in lieu of the Member's specific benefit plan language.
POLICY HISTORY11/15/2012: Approved by Medical Policy Advisory Committee.
10/17/2013: Policy reviewed; no changes.
SOURCE(S)Blue Cross Blue Shield Association policy # 7.01.137
CODE REFERENCEThis may not be a comprehensive list of procedure codes applicable to this policy.