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Three Dog Night Drummer Finds His Rhythm Again

Dr. Kenneth Tieu Performs LINX® procedure to fix chronic acid reflux.

Pat Bautz may not be comfortable being called a rock star, but with nearly 25 years touring with the iconic band Three Dog Night, the title seems fitting.

"I guess you could say I grew old touring with the band," joked Bautz. "We do about 75 shows a year, and it's a lot of traveling, and that part can be tough on your body."

An Eau Gallie native who now makes his home in Viera, Bautz found himself in the Emergency Room at Health First's Viera Hospital. Health First Medical Group surgeon Dr. Kenneth Tieu, whom Bautz was under the care of, determined emergency gallbladder surgery was in order.

"I got to talking to him about my brutal issues with acid reflux. I told him how I was sleeping at a 45-degree angle and still waking up choking and hacking. He said he could fix that easy," Bautz said.

Tieu specializes in the LINX® Reflux Management System. The procedure is a surgical treatment option for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), a condition more commonly known as acid reflux. GERD is caused by a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which allows acid and bile to reflux - or flow back - from the stomach into the esophagus.

LINX®is used for treating acid reflux when medication no longer provides adequate symptom control or for patients seeking an alternative to long-term acid suppression medications. LINX® is a bracelet-shaped system of flexible magnetic titanium beads that, when placed around the esophagus, supports a weak or malfunctioning LES, the muscle that opens and closes to allow food to enter and stay in the stomach. Implanting LINX® restores the body's barrier to reflux. The magnetic attraction of the titanium beads allows the LES to open and close to let food in or out, should it need to.

As a drummer who also sings with the band, Bautz's symptoms were also taking a toll on his craft. "I was not feeling rested, and I am sure it affected my voice," Bautz said.

"I mean, when you have acid reflux, you just learn to live with it and you don't know how bad it was until it's gone," Bautz said. "The symptoms were completely gone after the surgery."

LINX® placement is a less-invasive surgery, performed laparoscopically under general anesthesia. Unlike other procedures that treat reflux, LINX® requires no changes to the stomach. Patients usually go home the same or next day and are able to eat a normal diet after surgery.

LINX® starts working as soon as the device is implanted and is designed to last throughout the patient's lifetime. Additionally, LINX® won't affect trips through TSA checkpoints, and the device will still allow patients to safely undergo a wide range of diagnostic imaging tests, including X-rays, ultrasound, PET scans, CT scans or MRIs.

"With the band's touring schedule, I am at the airport often and I breeze right through security," said Bautz. "It hasn't slowed me down one bit. And with all the terrible choices for food on the run, I used to get a bad bout of heartburn and acid reflux. That's all in the past. I have zero symptoms now and feel better than ever."

Dr. Tieu says, "Many people don't realize there's a pretty simple fix for their problems and that medicines only mask the symptoms and can be detrimental in the long run."

Research has shown that chronic untreated reflux can significantly increase the risk of esophageal cancer. Additionally, there has been a 600 percent increase in esophageal cancer in the past 25 years.

Dr. Tieu believes this procedure is revolutionary. In fact, he and Drs. Nathan Allison and Pete Walker, also of Health First Medical Group, are the only surgeons in Brevard County offering this less-invasive option. They are also preceptors for the procedure, teaching other surgeons from across the country how to perform the surgery. Since LINX® was introduced in Brevard County about two years ago, Drs. Tieu and Allison have performed more than 75 cases. With over 90 percent patient satisfaction, Dr. Tieu believes there are more fans to come.

"Dr. Tieu was so great. He must have asked me a million times how I'm doing. He's super smart and just an all-around great and caring doctor." said Bautz.

As to whether the surgery helped restore his voice back to a pre-GERD time, Bautz chuckled. "Well, you might have to ask the people at our concerts," he said with a laugh.

To schedule your consultation, call 321.615.9417, option 3.