“Approximately 96 to 98 percent of my patients have complete and immediate resolution of their symptoms.”

– Dr. Iqbal.

Sitting ringside at a boxing match, Jeff Roberts, M.D., is eagerly watching both competitors in their respective corners. It’s the end of the eighth round, and it’s been a close fight. Coming straight from his busy medical practice, he skipped dinner. Not along ago, eating too close to bedtime would almost always mean severe burning in his chest.

“Every time I ate, my stomach hurt, my esophagus hurt – the pain was chronic and sometimes so severe that it felt like I was having a heart attack,” says Dr. Roberts. “I’ve been dealing with my heartburn for nearly 35 years.”


Dr. Roberts suffered from severe GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

When food is consumed, it travels from the mouth through the esophagus, or food pipe, and into the stomach, where it’s supposed to remain.


Severe and unmanageable GERD symptoms may be the result of an incompetent lower esophageal sphincter, or LES. This circular bundle of muscles at the base of the esophagus is supposed to allow food and liquid to flow only one way – from the esophagus into the stomach. When the LES is weakened, or fails to close completely, highly caustic stomach acid and partially digested food return to the esophagus. The effects can range from mild heartburn to debilitating pain, chronic inflammation, ulcers and even esophageal cancer.


“I followed every recommendation for managing my GERD. I was careful about what I ate – no fried, spicy or acidic foods, no caffeine or carbonated drinks; I kept my weight normal; I slept with my head elevated,” says Dr. Roberts. “I was even taking prescription anti-reflux medication at twice the normal dose, and still had poor symptom control.”

Giving GERD the One-Two Punch


Despite the nearly constant pain, Dr. Roberts managed to maintain a busy practice and an active lifestyle. His passion for mixed martial arts led him to serve as a ringside physician for combat sport competitions. During a boxing match, he found himself working with Atif Iqbal, M.D., medical director of the Digestive Care Center at Orange Coast Memorial. The two became friends and, over time, Dr. Roberts disclosed the severity of his GERD symptoms and complications.


“I think this was serendipitous,” says Dr. Iqbal. “I had the perfect solution for him – LINX.” 

The LINX device is a small ring of titanium beads about the size of a quarter. Each of the beads has a magnetic center. When the ring is wrapped around the weak LES, the magnetic attraction causes it to contract, helping the LES stay closed. Patients are free from GERD immediately after the procedure.

Dr. Roberts awoke after his 30-minute, laparoscopic LINX procedure, with just four very small incisions. His pain and recovery time were minimal. He was back at work in just a few days, never giving his GERD another thought.

Dr. Roberts adds, “LINX changed my life. I now sleep flat on my back again, no longer need my GERD medications and I’m enjoying every moment with my family. It was so simple.”

For more information, please visit memorialcare.org/ocdigestivecare.