Good luck wth your search. The chalky liquid test was likely the barium swallow test. It watches the behavior of the liquid as it goes down the esophagus into the stomach. It can generally spot hiatus hernias, as well as severe reflux. It's the least invasive of all the tests and is generally the one that doctors order first.
I hope you find a great surgeon to do your work. The surgeon your GI doc recommended sounds well-qualified. Mine had done 300-400 during the past 10 years or so when laproscopic surgery became the standard Nissen procedure. I've read that it was helpful when the surgery began to be done laproscopically, because it limited the number of surgeons doing the procedure. When the procedures are done by fewer surgeons, they become much more experienced. In the city where I live now (a medium-sized city) there is a surgeon who (as I was told by my ENT and PCP), "does all the Nissens".
When I selected my surgeon (in a smaller city than where I am now), I took the advice of my GI doc and asked a nurse anesthetist who worked at the same hospital. Both indicated that he is the surgeon they would go to if they had the need. That was enough for me. I interviewed him with a list of questions, and within 3 weeks had the surgery.
I had considered going out of town to a center, in order to take advantage of the most skilled and experienced surgeon. I discussed this option with my PCP of 25 years. He supported whatever I decided to do, but did point out that if I went far away (it would have been hundreds of miles), I would have to go back there if I had a problem, as nobody local would touch me. After weighing all the alternatives, as well as the pros and cons, I made the decision that was right for me. I have been very happy with the results.
If I were to need a redo, I would once again consider all the alternatives, and might end up at a center, as redos are more difficult and done less often. I'll face that decision when I come to it.
This is a decision only you can make. What one person decides might not be the right for another. I wish you luck in your search. The work you're doing to research surgeons and all your options is a good thing. Continue educating yourself, asking questions, and exploring options. It's no rush. You've lived with the affects of GERD this long, you can wait a little longer!
Words of wisdom by Eckhart Tolle:
"Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.”
“Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose”
“Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”
Post Edited (dencha) : 10/7/2012 9:08:24 AM (GMT-6)