Transesophageal Endoscopic Therapies for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Number 2.01.38

Effective Date April 24, 2015

Revision Date(s) 04/14/15; 01/13/14; 01/14/13; 02/14/12; 10/11/11; 10/12/10; 09/15/09; 08/12/08; 10/9/07, 09/12/06; 05/09/06; 02/08/05; 07/13/04; 05/11/04; 01/01/04; 05/13/03; 11/12/02; 01/08/02; 01/18/01

Replaces N/A


Transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF) (i.e., Esophyx®) is considered investigational as a treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Transesophageal radiofrequency to create submucosal thermal lesions of the gastroesophageal junction (i.e., Stretta® procedure) is considered investigational as a treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Endoscopic submucosal implantation of a prosthesis or injection of a bulking agent (e.g.,, polymethylmethacrylate beads, zirconium oxide spheres) is considered investigational as a treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Related Policies


Transanal Radiofrequency Treatment of Fecal Incontinence


Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM) for Treatment of Esophageal Achalasia


Magnetic Esophageal Ring to Treat Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Policy Guidelines




Esophagoscopy, flexible, transoral; with directed submucosal injection(s), any substance


Esophagoscopy, flexible, transoral; with placement of endoscopic stent (includes pre- and post-dilation and guide wire passage, when performed)


Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, flexible, transoral; with directed submucosal injection(s), any substance


Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, flexible, transoral; with delivery of thermal energy to the muscle of lower esophageal sphincter and/or gastric cardia, for treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease


Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, flexible, transoral; with placement of endoscopic stent (includes pre- and post-dilation and guide wire passage, when performed)


Unlisted procedure, esophagus


Transesophageal endoscopic therapies are being developed for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). A variety of procedures are being evaluated, including transesophageal (or transoral) incisionless fundoplication (TIF), application of radiofrequency (RF) energy, and injection/implantation of prosthetic devices or bulking agents.


Due in part to the high prevalence of GERD, there has been interest in creating a minimally invasive transesophageal therapeutic alternative to open or laparoscopic fundoplication or chronic medical therapy. This type of procedure may be considered natural orifice transluminal surgery. Three types of procedures have been investigated.

  1. Transesophageal endoscopic gastroplasty (gastroplication, TIF) is an outpatient procedure. During this procedure, suture(s), staples, or fasteners are placed in the lower esophageal sphincter. The sutures/staples/fasteners are designed to strengthen and lengthen the sphincter to decrease reflux.
  2. RF energy has been used to produce submucosal thermal lesions at the gastroesophageal junction. (This technique has also been referred to as the Stretta procedure). Specifically, RF energy is applied through 4 electrodes inserted into the esophageal wall at multiple sites both above and below the squamocolumnar junction. The mechanism of action of the thermal lesions is not precisely known but may be related to ablation of the nerve pathways responsible for sphincter relaxation or may induce a tissue-tightening effect related to heat-induced collagen contraction and fibrosis.
  3. Submucosal injection or implantation of a prosthetic or bulking agent to enhance the volume of the lower esophageal sphincter has also been investigated.

One bulking agent, pyrolytic carbon-coated zirconium oxide spheres (Durasphere®), is being evaluated.

The Gatekeeper™ Reflux Repair System (Medtronic, Shoreview, MN) uses a soft, pliable, expandable prosthesis made of a polyacrylonitrile-based hydrogel. The prosthesis is implanted into the esophageal submucosa, and with time, the prosthesis absorbs water and expands, creating bulk in the region of implantation.

FDA product code: DQX.

Endoscopic submucosal implantation of polymethylmethacrylate beads into the lower esophageal folds has also been investigated.

Regulatory Status

Esophyx® (EndoGastric Solutions, Redmond, WA) received 510(k) marketing clearance in 2007 for full-thickness plication. The Medigus SRS Endoscopic Stapling System (MUSE, Medigus Ltd) received marketing clearance in 2012 (K120299) and 2014 (K132151). MUSE is intended for endoscopic placement of surgical staples in the soft tissue of the esophagus and stomach to create anterior partial fundoplication for treatment of symptomatic chronic GERD in patients who require and respond to pharmacologic therapy. FDA product code: ODE.

The CSM Stretta® System received 510(k) marketing clearance from FDA in 2000 for general use in the electrosurgical coagulation of tissue and is specifically intended for use in the treatment of GERD. Stretta® is currently manufactured by Mederi Therapeutics (Greenwich, CT). FDA product code: GEI.

Durasphere® is a bulking agent approved for treatment of urinary and fecal incontinence (see Related Policies). Use of this product for esophageal reflux would be considered off-label use. The website of Carbon Medical Technologies states that Durasphere GR is an investigational device in the United States “intended to treat problems associated with GERD.”


Medical policies are systematically developed guidelines that serve as a resource for Company staff when determining coverage for specific medical procedures, drugs or devices. Coverage for medical services is subject to the limits and conditions of the member benefit plan. Members and their providers should consult the member benefit booklet or contact a customer service representative to determine whether there are any benefit limitations applicable to this service or supply. This medical policy does not apply to Medicare Advantage.

Benefit Application



This policy was based, in part, on a 2003 TEC Assessment of transesophageal endoscopic treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). (1) Since the 2003 Assessment, this policy has been updated periodically using the MEDLINE database. The most recent literature review was performed through October 8, 2014. This policy will address procedures which are currently available for use in the United States.

A 2005 report of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) on Comparative Effectiveness of Management Strategies for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease found that more efficacy and safety data on new endoscopic approaches were needed. (2) The comparative effectiveness review evaluated studies on the EndoCinch Suturing System, Stretta, Enteryx, and the NDO Plicator. A 2011 update of the AHRQ report (3) excluded Enteryx and the NDO Plicator, because they were no longer available in the United States, and added the EsophyX® procedure (endoscopic fundoplication), which was commercialized after the 2005 review.

The AHRQ report concluded that for the 3 available endoscopic procedures (EndoCinch™, Stretta™, EsophyX®), effectiveness remains substantially uncertain for the long-term management of GERD. While some clinical benefits were observed in patients who had these procedures, the studies were generally small, of variable quality, and of short duration. In addition, all of these procedures have been associated with complications, including dysphagia, infection/fever, and bloating. (Bloating and dsyphagia are also adverse effects of laparoscopic fundoplication. (4) Higher quality studies are needed to determine the role and value of endoscopic procedures in the treatment of patients with GERD.

Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (Esophyx®)

The available literature on Esophyx® transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF) consists of numerous case series, 1 small randomized controlled trial (RCT), 1 small nonrandomized comparative study with limited follow-up, and results from a multicenter registry.

Controlled Trials

A small randomized trial assigned 52 patients in a 2:1 ratio to TIF (18 NDO Plicator™, 16 Esophyx®) or to laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication. (5) Patients were enrolled in the study if they had pathologic esophageal acid exposure confirmed by 24-hour pH measurements, responded at least partially to proton pump inhibitor (PPI) therapy, showed a deteriorated gastroesophageal junction, and had a small hiatal hernia (<2 cm). At the 12-month follow-up, there were 26 patients (76%) in the TIF group and 14 patients (78%) in the Nissen fundoplication group. The GERD-HRQL (health-related quality of life) scores improved to a similar extent in both groups. At 12 months, a similar percentage of patients in the TIF group (79%) and Nissen fundoplication group (73%) improved in the Hill grade by 50% or more, and the percentage of patients who had completely stopped PPI use was not significantly different (50% TIF vs. 71% Nissen). The hospital stay was significantly shorter following TIF group (2.9 days) compared with Nissen fundoplication (6.4 days).

In 2011, Frazzoni et al. reported a small (n=20) prospective open-label study comparing the EsophyX®procedure with laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication in PPI-resistant patients. (6) Twenty-three of 142 patients who were assessed for persistent heartburn/regurgitation met the criteria for entering the study. Excluded were patients with Barrett esophagus, hiatal hernia, previous anti-reflux surgery, progressive systemic sclerosis, severe cardiac/pulmonary disease, or pregnancy. Ten patients with PPI-resistant GERD chose to undergo EsophyX®, and 10 chose laparoscopic fundoplication. There were no significant differences in baseline characteristics between the 2 groups. Ambulatory 24-hour impedance-pH monitoring was performed at baseline and 3 months after fundoplication. Distal and proximal refluxes were significantly reduced in the laparoscopic group (e.g., from a baseline of 73 to 25 at 3 months) but not in the endoscopic group (from 60 to 64). Esophageal acid exposure time was considered to be normal in 100% of cases after Nissen fundoplication versus 50% of cases after EsophyX®. Symptoms, based on a 5-point Likert scale, remained in 0 out of 10 laparoscopically treated patients and in 6 of 10 patients who underwent EsophyX®. Although results from this small comparative study do not support EsophyX® in this select group of patients, randomized trials with a larger number of subjects and longer follow-up are needed to evaluate this procedure.

Prospective Series

Six- and 12-month follow-up has been reported from a prospective multicenter registry of patients with chronic GERD who received TIF using the EsophyX2 system with SerosaFuse fasteners. (7,8) For the 100 consecutive patients who were treated in this community-based study, the median GERD symptom duration was 9 years (range, 1-35 years), the median duration of PPI use was 7 years (range, 1-20 years), and 92% of patients had incomplete symptom control, despite maximal medical therapy. Of the 100 patients, 88% had objectively documented GERD at screening (abnormal pH test, esophagitis, Barrett esophagus, peptic strictures). Fasteners were successfully deployed in 89% of attempted deliveries, and a mean of 20 fasteners were used for fundoplication. Questionnaires were obtained from 96 of 100 patients at 12 months. Results were found to be stable between 6 and 12 months postprocedure. The median score on the GERD-HRQL improved from 24 to 2, the median reflux symptom index (RSI) was reduced from 20 to 5, and the median gastroesophageal reflux symptom score (GERSS) was reduced from 26 to 4. In the 59 patients with an abnormal GERSS (>18) at screening, 88% normalized their score. Six patients had revisional procedures and were considered treatment failures. Of 27 patients who underwent 12-month pH testing, 14 (52%) were normalized. Daily bothersome heartburn was eliminated in 66 of 85 (78%) and regurgitation symptoms were eliminated in 48 of 58 (83%). Seventy-seven percent of patients were off daily PPI therapy. The authors noted that although the magnitude of typical symptom improvement was lower with TIF than is expected with traditional Nissen fundoplication, there was a very low incidence of adverse effects compared with traditional fundoplication.

In 2013, Muls et al. published 3-year follow-up results on 66 of 86 patients (77%) in the pivotal U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) trial who had been treated with the Esophyx® device. (9) Twelve of the 66 (18%) underwent revisional procedures (2 laparoscopic Nissen, 10 TIF revisions) and were considered treatment failures. With a modified intention-to-treat analysis (n=66), a clinically significant reduction in GERD-HRQL (≥50% vs. pre-TIF) was observed in 65% of patients at 3 years. Of the 11 patients who underwent pH testing at the 3-year follow-up visit, 9 (82%) showed normalized pH.

Other Studies

Furner et al. reported an increased risk of gastric injury with laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication after failed EsophyX® fundoplication. (10) Of 88 patients in their database who underwent EsophyX® fundoplication, 11 (12.5%) subsequently underwent Nissen fundoplication for persistent (n=7) or recurrent symptoms (n=4) at a mean 8.1 months after the primary procedure. Endoscopy showed partial or total disruption of fasteners in 8 of the 11 patients (72.7%). Nissen fundoplication after EsophyX® resulted in gastric perforation in 2 patients and conversion to laparotomy in 1 patient. Another patient developed a subphrenic abscess requiring surgical exploration. In 7 patients, the preoperative symptoms were resolved or improved after Nissen fundoplication, 3 reported symptom worsening due to new-onset daily dysphagia, and 1 had symptom worsening due to daily heartburn.

Section Summary

The literature on the efficacy of EsophyX® consists of 2 small controlled trials, registry data, and numerous case series. While these studies report improvements in outcomes following treatment with EsophyX, the lack of control group in most of the studies makes the clinical meaning of these changes unclear. RCTs with longer follow-up are needed to determine whether EsophyX improves outcomes compared with alternative treatments. Several trials are in progress (see Ongoing and Unpublished Clinical Trials section).

Transesophageal Radiofrequency (i.e., Stretta procedure)

The available evidence consists of a meta-analysis and 4 small RCTs, all 4 of which include a sham placebo control, along with numerous uncontrolled case series.

Systematic Review and Meta-analyses

A systematic review and meta-analysis was published by Lipka et al in 2014 (preprint). (11) Four RCTs with a total of 165 patients were included in the meta-analysis. (12-15) These trials are described in greater detail in the next section. Three trials compared Stretta versus sham, and 1 trial compared Stretta with PPI therapy. The overall quality of evidence was considered to be very low with a high risk of bias. The pooled results showed no significant difference between Stretta and sham or PPI management for the measured outcomes. The mean difference (control minus Stretta) in the percent time that pH was less than 4 was 1.56 (95% confidence interval [CI], -2.56 to 5.69). The mean difference for esophageal sphincter pressure was -0.32 mm Hg (95% CI: -2.66 to 2.02). The mean difference in HRQL from 2 studies was -5.24 (95% CI: -12.95 to 2.46). The risk ratio for the ability to discontinue PPIs was 0.87 (95% CI: 0.75 to 1.00). This meta-analysis is limited by heterogeneity in the included studies, which may be due to small sample sizes, differences in measures, and differences in follow-up time. Lipka et al. also identified significant risks associated with Stretta, including pneumonia, gastroparesis, esophageal perforation, cardiac arrest, and at least 4 deaths from review of the Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience (MAUDE) database.

A 2012 meta-analysis by Perry et al. included 20 studies (2 RCTs, 18 case series) with a total of 1,441 patients. (16) This review analyzed the within-subjects results following treatment only. The control groups of available clinical trials were not included for comparison. Analysis of the 9 studies (525 patients) that reported subjective heartburn scores showed a significant decrease from 3.55 to 1.19 at a mean of 24.1 months. Analysis of the 9 studies (433 patients) that reported GERD-HRQL scores showed an improvement from 26.11 to 9.25 at a mean follow-up of 19.8 months. Analysis of the 6 studies (299 patients) that reported SF-36 physical component Summary scores showed an improvement from 36.45 to 46.12 at a mean follow-up of 9.5 months. For the 11 studies that measured esophageal pH, significant improvements were found in the Johnson-DeMeester score (44.37 to 28.53), the esophageal acid exposure time (10.29% to 6.51%), and lower esophageal sphincter pressure (16.54 to 20.24). This meta-analysis is limited by the inclusion of lower quality studies and by the analysis, which only examined within-subject differences and did not include between-subjects differences, as reported in the RCTs.

Controlled Trials

The 2003 TEC Assessment included one randomized, sham-controlled trial by Corley et al. (14) This trial enrolled patients with symptoms at least partially responsive to PPIs, a pH study showing abnormal acid exposure, and the usual exclusions including severe esophagitis or significant anatomic defect. The sham procedure involved balloon inflation but no needle deployment or energy delivery. A total of 64 patients were randomized, and partial or complete 6-month follow-up data were available on 56 patients.

The results of this trial were inconsistent. Although improvement in heartburn symptoms, quality of life, and general physical quality of life was observed in the active treatment group compared with the sham group, there were no differences in medication usage and esophageal acid exposure. Thus in terms of the objective measures of GERD, the findings are equivocal. The large proportion of sham-treated patients successfully reducing medication use points to possible placebo effect of the procedure.

Aziz et al. reported a 12-month randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial in 36 patients whose GERD was controlled with PPIs. (13) Patients were randomly assigned to receive RF, which could be repeated if there was a less than 75% improvement in GERD-HRQL scores at 4 months, or a sham procedure. At 12 months, 17% of patients in the single-session group, 50% in the double-session group, and 0% of the sham-treated patients had discontinued PPIs. Statistically significant improvements in GERD-HRQL were observed in all 3 treatment groups: In the single-session RF group, GERD-HRQL scores improved from a mean of 30 at baseline to 14 posttreatment; in the double-session RF group, GERD-HRQL scores improved from 31 to 11; and in the sham group, GERD-HRQL scores improved from 30 to 25. Mean total esophageal acid exposure time decreased in the active treatment groups (from 9.4 to 6.7 minutes in the single-session group [p<0.01], from 8.8 to 5.2 minutes in the double-session group [p<0.01]) but not in the sham group. The clinical relevance of these changes is uncertain. Serious adverse events occurred in 3 patients following RF treatment; 1 patient developed pneumonia and in 2 patients developed prolonged gastroparesis.

Arts et al. reported a double-blind randomized crossover study of Stretta and sham treatment in a small trial with 22 GERD patients. (12) The initial sham treatment in 11 patients did not affect any of the outcome measures. Three months after the RF procedure, the symptom score was significantly improved (14.7 to 8.3), and gastroesophageal junction compliance was significantly decreased (17.8 vs. 7.4 mL/mm Hg). The quality-of-life score for bodily pain improved from 49.5 to 24.0. No changes were observed in PPI use, esophageal acid exposure, or lower esophageal sphincter pressure after RF. The decrease in compliance of the gastroesophageal junction was reversed by a smooth muscle relaxant, suggesting that the effect of RF on gastroesophageal junction compliance was not due to fibrosis.

In an unblinded randomized trial by Coron et al., a total of 43 PPI-dependent GERD patients either continued the effective dose of their PPI or received the RF procedure (Stretta™). (15) At 6 months, significantly more patients in the treatment group were able to discontinue or decrease their PPI use by at least 50% than in the control group, a difference that was not maintained at 12 months. Some authors have suggested that PPI discontinuation rather than dose reduction is a more meaningful outcome measure. In this study, the number of patients able to discontinue PPI medication did not differ between groups.

Uncontrolled studies

Ten-year follow-up after the Stretta procedure was reported by Noar et al. (17) All patients had daily recurring symptoms of heartburn and regurgitation despite twice-daily PPI use. Of a total of 217 patients treated, 149 had reached 10-year follow-up. Of those, 50 were lost to follow-up (11 were deceased), resulting in 99 patients in the cohort. Of the 99 patients with 10-year follow-up, 72% showed normalization of GERD-HRQL scores, 64% had a 50% or greater reduction in PPI use, and 41% eliminated PPIs completely. Comparison of results out to 4 years in the total cohort (n=217) and completers only (n=99) showed no evidence of bias associated with non-completers. In a subset of 51 patients who underwent repeat endoscopy at 10 years or later, only 5 of the 33 patients who had dysplasia at study entry had remaining metaplasia. In the 18 patients without metaplasia at study entry, there was no change in esophageal histology.

Section Summary

Four small RCTs report improvements in symptoms and quality of life following treatment with RF energy, however, a meta-analysis of these same studies found no significant improvement in outcomes. Adverse events, including nausea/vomiting, chest pain, dysphagia, and pneumonia have been reported. Larger RCTs with longer follow-up are needed to better define the risks and benefits of this procedure.

Injection/Implantation of Prosthetics or Bulking Agents


The available evidence for this device consists of one case series. One open-label pilot study (18) of 10 GERD patients injected Durasphere (Carbon Medical Technologies, St. Paul, MN), a bulking agent approved for treatment of urinary and fecal incontinence, at the gastroesophageal junction. At 12 months, 7 patients (70%) discontinued all antacid medication completely. No erosion, ulceration, or sloughing of material was noted at any injection site.

Gatekeeper Reflux Repair System

The available evidence for this device consists of one RCT. An industry-funded sham-controlled single-blind multicenter study randomized 118 patients into Gatekeeper (n=75) or sham (n=43) treatment. (19) An additional 25 patients were treated as lead-ins during the initial training of investigators and included only in the safety analysis. The patients were implanted initially with 4 Gatekeeper prostheses. At 3 months, 44% of implanted patients received retreatment with up to 4 additional prostheses due to unsatisfactory symptom control. The primary safety end point was reduction in serious device- and procedure-related adverse device effects, compared with a surgical procedure composite complication rate of 15%. Four serious adverse events were reported (2 perforations, 1 pulmonary infiltrate related to a perforation, 1 severe chest pain). The primary efficacy end point was reduction in heartburn symptoms using the GERD-HRQL questionnaire. Planned interim analysis after 143 patients were enrolled found that heartburn symptoms and esophageal acid exposure had improved significantly in both the Gatekeeper and sham groups at 6 months, but there was no significant difference between the 2 groups. The study was terminated early due to a lack of efficacy.

Polymethylmethacrylate Beads

The available evidence for this device consists of one case series. A 2001 publication on transesophageal submucosal implantation of polymethylmethacrylate beads consisted of a case series of 10 patients with GERD who were either refractory to or dependent on PPIs. (20) While a significant decrease in symptom scores was noted at post-treatment follow-up (time not specified), the small number of patients and lack of long-term follow-up preclude scientific analysis. No additional studies have been identified evaluating this treatment option.

Ongoing and Unpublished Clinical Trials

A search of in October 2014 found the following ongoing trials:

  • NCT01682265 is an independently funded, randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial of the Stretta procedure in patients with reflux uncontrolled by intake of PPIs (SIRUP). The study is currently recruiting participants and has an estimated enrollment of 60 patients. Study completion is expected March 2017.
  • NCT01110811 is an industry-sponsored randomized, sham controlled trial of TIF comparing EsophyX with a sham procedure for the treatment of GERD. The study has an estimated enrollment of 60 patients with completion expected June 2015.
  • NCT01136980 is the Randomized EsophyX Versus Sham/Placebo Controlled TIF Trial (RESPECT). This is an industry-sponsored RCT comparing TIF using EsophyX with a sham procedure for the treatment of PPI-dependent GERD. The study has an enrollment of 129 patients with completion targeted for March 2014. At the time of the last posting in October 2013, the study was listed as ongoing but not recruiting participants.
  • NCT01118585 is a phase 4 registry on the EsophyX procedure with 3-year follow-up. The study has completed enrollment with 500 patients and final results are expected in September 2015.

Clinical Input Received From Physician Specialty Societies and Academic Medical Centers

While the various physician specialty societies and academic medical centers may collaborate with and make recommendations during this process, through the provision of appropriate reviewers, input received does not represent an endorsement or position statement by the physician specialty societies or academic medical centers, unless otherwise noted.

2011 Input

In response to requests for clinical input on TIF using EsophyX®, input was received from 2 physician specialty societies and 4 academic medical centers while this policy was under review in 2011. The reviewers agreed that TIF is sufficiently different from laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication to warrant evaluation as a separate procedure. The reviewers considered TIF (i.e., EsophyX®) to be investigational for the treatment of GERD.

2015 Input

In response to requests for clinical input on transesophageal RF (Stretta®) as a treatment of GERD, input was received from 1 physician specialty society (2 reviewers) and 3 academic medical centers while this policy was under review for 2015. Input was mixed on treatment of GERD with transesophageal RF to create submucosal thermal lesions of the gastroesophageal junction (ie, Stretta®). Potential conflicts of interest were noted by 2 reviewers.

Summary of Evidence

There is insufficient evidence at present to establish the safety and efficacy of these procedures, particularly in the long term. Some of the unresolved issues include questions about the safety and durability of the device/treatment and lack of consistent improvement in objective measures (esophageal acid exposure) using these devices. Also, the rate of revisional procedures on longer follow-up may be high and needs to be further defined. high-quality data from large randomized controlled trials are needed to compare endoscopic procedures with both sham controls and with the currently accepted treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), i.e., drug therapy and laparoscopic fundoplication. Well-designed trials should use standardized outcome measures to examine whether subjective improvement, such as discontinuation of medication therapy and GERD-HRQL (Health-Related Quality of Life) scores, is supported by objective improvement, such as esophageal acid exposure. Until such studies demonstrate improved net health outcomes for patients with GERD, These techniques are considered investigational.

Practice Guidelines and Position Statements

Updated guidelines released by the American College of Gastroenterology in 2013 state that the usage of current endoscopic therapy or transoral incisionless fundoplication cannot be recommended as an alternative to medical or traditional surgical therapy (Conditional recommendation, moderate level of evidence).(21)

The Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) provided evidence-based guidelines on endoluminal treatments for GERD in 2013. (22) SAGES gave a weak recommendation based on low-quality evidence for the EsophyX procedure, stating that long-term data are not yet available and that further studies are required to define optimal techniques and most appropriate patient selection criteria, and to further evaluate device and technique safety. SAGES gave a strong recommendation based on high-quality evidence that Stretta is considered appropriate therapy for patients being treated for GERD who are 18 years of age or older, who have had symptoms of heartburn, regurgitation, or both for 6 months or more, who have been partially or completely responsive to antisecretory pharmacologic therapy, and who have declined laparoscopic fundoplication.

The American Society of General Surgeons (ASGS) issued a position statement on transoral fundoplication in 2011 stating that “ASGS supports the use of transoral fundoplication by trained General Surgeons for the treatment of symptomatic chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in patients who fail to achieve satisfactory response to a standard dose of Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) therapy or for those who wish to avoid the need for a lifetime of medication dependence.” (23)

The 2008 Medical Position Statement of the American Gastroenterological Association (24) makes no recommendation for or against “the use of currently commercially available endoluminal antireflux procedures in the management of patients with an esophageal syndrome” based on insufficient evidence (Grade Insufficient).

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) of the National Health Service of Great Britain issued updated interventional procedure guidance in 2013 on endoscopic radiofrequency treatment for GERD, concluding: “The evidence on the safety of endoscopic radiofrequency ablation for gastro-esophageal reflux disease is adequate in the short and medium term but there is uncertainty about longer term outcomes. With regard to efficacy, there is evidence of symptomatic relief but objective evidence on reduction of reflux is inconclusive. Therefore, this procedure should only be used with special arrangements for clinical governance, consent and audit or research.” (25) The reviewing committee noted “concern on the part of some specialists about the possibility that symptoms may improve as a result of denervation caused by the procedure; if that were the case then failure to recognize and treat reflux might lead to complications in the long term.”

NICE issued guidance in 2011 on endoluminal gastroplication for GERD, concluding that “The evidence on endoluminal gastroplication for gastroesophageal reflux disease raises no major safety concerns. Evidence from a number of RCTs [randomized controlled trials] shows a degree of efficacy in terms of reduced medication requirement in the short term, but changes in other efficacy outcomes are inconsistent, and there is no good evidence of sustained improvement in esophageal pH measurements. Therefore, this procedure should only be used with special arrangements for clinical governance, consent and audit or research.”(26)

The 2004 Guidance from NICE on bulking agents for GERD found that “Current evidence on the safety and efficacy of endoscopic injection of bulking agents for gastro-esophageal reflux disease does not appear adequate for this procedure to be used without special arrangements for consent and for audit or research.” (27)

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations

Not applicable.

Medicare National Coverage

There is no national coverage determination (NCD). In the absence of an NCD, coverage decisions are left to the discretion of local Medicare carriers.


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  3. Ip S, Chung M, Moorthy D, et al. Management strategies for gastroesophageal reflux disease: An update. Comparative effectiveness review No. 29 (Prepared by Tufts Medical Center Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. HHSA 290-2007-10055-I.) AHRQ Publication No. 11-EHC049-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2011; Accessed March 19, 2015.
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  12. Arts J, Bisschops R, Blondeau K, et al. A double-blind sham-controlled study of the effect of radiofrequency energy on symptoms and distensibility of the gastro-esophageal junction in GERD. Am J Gastroenterol. Feb 2012; 107(2):222-230. PMID 22108449
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  14. Corley DA, Katz P, Wo JM, et al. Improvement of gastroesophageal reflux symptoms after radiofrequency energy: a randomized, sham-controlled trial. Gastroenterology. Sep 2003;125(3):668-676. PMID 12949712
  15. Coron E, Sebille V, Cadiot G, et al. Clinical trial: Radiofrequency energy delivery in proton pump inhibitor-dependent gastro-oesophageal reflux disease patients. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. Nov 1 2008; 28(9):1147-1158. PMID 18616516
  16. Perry KA, Banerjee A, Melvin WS. Radiofrequency Energy Delivery to the Lower Esophageal Sphincter Reduces Esophageal Acid Exposure and Improves GERD Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Surg Laparosc Endosc Percutan Tech. Aug 2012;22(4):283-288. PMID 22874675
  17. Noar M, Squires P, Noar E, et al. Long-term maintenance effect of radiofrequency energy delivery for refractory GERD: a decade later. Surg Endosc. Aug 2014;28(8):2323-2333. PMID 24562599
  18. Ganz RA, Fallon E, Wittchow T, et al. A new injectable agent for the treatment of GERD: results of the Durasphere pilot trial. Gastrointest Endosc. Feb 2009; 69(2):318-323. PMID 19185691
  19. Fockens P, Cohen L, Edmundowicz SA, et al. Prospective randomized controlled trial of an injectable esophageal prosthesis versus a sham procedure for endoscopic treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Surg Endosc. Jun 2010; 24(6):1387-1397. PMID 20198491
  20. Feretis C, Benakis P, Dimopoulos C, et al. Endoscopic implantation of Plexiglas (PMMA) microspheres for the treatment of GERD. Gastrointest Endosc. Apr 2001; 53(4):423-426. PMID 11275880
  21. Katz PO, Gerson LB, Vela MF. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Am J Gastroenterol 2013; 108:308–328. Corrigendum. Am J Gastroenterol 2013; 108(10):1672. Accessed January 19, 2015.
  22. Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. Endoluminal treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 2013; Accessed January 19, 2015.
  23. American Society of General Surgeons (ASGS). Position statement: Transoral fundoplication. 2011; Accessed January 19, 2015.
  24. American Gastroenterological Association. Medical position statement on the management of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Available online at: Last accessed March 9, 2015.
  25. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. IPG461 - Endoscopic radiofrequency ablation for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. 2013. Available online at: Last accessed March 9, 2015.
  26. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. IPG404 - Endoluminal gastroplication for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. 2011. Available online at: Last accessed March 9, 2015.
  27. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. IPG55- Endoscopic injection of bulking agents for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. 2004. Available online at: Last accessed March 9, 2015.
  28. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Transesophageal Endoscopic Therapies for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Medical Policy Reference Manual, Policy 2.01.38, 2013.







Esophagoscopy, rigid or flexible; diagnostic, with or without collection of specimen(s) by brushing or washing (separate procedure)



Esophagoscopy, flexible, transoral; with directed submucosal injection(s), any substance



Esophagoscopy, flexible, transoral; with placement of endoscopic stent (includes pre- and dilation and guide wire passage, when performed)



Esophagoscopy, rigid or flexible; with transendoscopic ultrasound-guided intramural or transmural fine needle aspiration/biopsy(s)



Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, flexible, transoral; with directed submucosal injection(s), any substance



Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, flexible, transoral; with delivery of thermal energy to the muscle of lower esophageal sphincter and/or gastric cardia, for treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease



Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, flexible, transoral; with placement of endoscopic stent (includes pre- and dilation and guide wire passage, when performed)



Unlisted procedure, esophagus

Type of Service



Place of Service









Add to Medicine Section - New Policy


Replace Policy - Updated with new references; policy statement expanded.


Replace Policy - Policy updated using 2002 TEC Assessment; policy statement unchanged.


Replace Policy - CPT codes updated.


Replace Policy - CPT code updates only.


Replace Policy - Policy updated with reference to 2003 Assessment; policy statement amended to include ENTERYX procedure as investigational. New CPT code added. Title changed.


Replace Policy - Policy updated with literature search; references added; policy statement unchanged.


Replace Policy - Policy updated with new CPT category I code for Stretta added and category III code deletion; policy statement unchanged.


Code update - HCPCs code removed only, no other changes.


Replace Policy - Policy updated with literature and research; references added; policy statement enhanced


Update Scope and Disclaimer - No other changes.


Replace Policy - Policy updated with information on Plicator procedure, which was incorporated into the benefit statement as an additional investigational treatment; Rationale updated; references added; no actual change in policy statement.


Replace Policy - Policy updated with literature search through April 2007; policy statement unchanged. Another FDA-cleared device (StomaphyX) added to description. References added.


Replace Policy - Policy updated with literature search; no change to the policy statement. References and code added.


Code Update - 0133T deleted no other changes.


Replace Policy - Policy updated with literature search, no change to policy statement. References added.


Cross Reference Update - No other changes.


Minor update - No other changes.


Replace Policy - Policy updated with literature review, reference numbers 41-52 added. No change in policy statements.


Replace Policy – Policy updated with literature review through May 2011; Rationale section revised; policy statements on biocompatible polymer and PMMA beads combined as bulking agents; remains investigational.


Replace Policy – Clinical input reviewed; reference 3 added and references reordered; policy statements unchanged.


Update Coding Section – ICD-10 codes are now effective 10/01/2014.


Update Related Policies – Add 7.01.137.


Replace policy. Policy updated with literature review through September 2012; references 15, 19, 26 and 29 added and references reordered; policy statements unchanged. Add Related Policy 2.01.58.


Update Related Policies. Remove deleted policy 2.01.520 and add 2.01.20.


Replace policy. Policy updated with literature review through October 16, 2013; references added and reordered; policy statements unchanged. CPT coding updated; 43212 added to the policy and descriptors updated on others.ICD-9 diagnosis and ICD-10-CM codes removed; policy not adjudicated by diagnoses.


Update Related Policies. Remove 2.01.20 and 2.01.81 as they were archived.


Update Related Policies. Add 2.01.91.


Annual Review. Policy updated with literature review through October 8, 2014; clinical input reviewed; Rationale revised; references 8, 11, and 17 added and some references removed; NDO Plicator, EndoCinch, and Enteryx removed from policy because they are no longer available in the US. Remove ICD-9 and ICD-10 procedure codes; these are not utilized in policy adjudication.

Disclaimer: This medical policy is a guide in evaluating the medical necessity of a particular service or treatment. The Company adopts policies after careful review of published peer-reviewed scientific literature, national guidelines and local standards of practice. Since medical technology is constantly changing, the Company reserves the right to review and update policies as appropriate. Member contracts differ in their benefits. Always consult the member benefit booklet or contact a member service representative to determine coverage for a specific medical service or supply. CPT codes, descriptions and materials are copyrighted by the American Medical Association (AMA).
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