Barrett’s Esophagus is a pre-cancerous condition affecting the lining of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth into the stomach. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a disorder in which stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus and cause injury to the esophageal lining. In some patients with long-standing GERD, the normal esophagus cells are damaged. Over time, this damage can result in inflammation and genetic changes that cause the cells to become abnormal. The tissue takes on a different appearance and is called intestinal metaplasia or Barrett’s Esophagus.
Barrett’s Esophagus increases the risk for a patient to develop esophageal cancer.
Some patients with Barrett’s Esophagus will experience the typical symptoms of GERD such as heartburn and indigestion. Others may have no symptoms at all.
Patients with Barrett’s Esophagus should have periodic endoscopic evaluation with biopsies looking for a condition called dysplasia, which places them at even higher risk for the development of esophageal cancer.
All patients should be treated with medications to decrease acid reflux into the esophagus. Some patients with dysplasia or early stage esophageal cancer may be candidates to have an endoscopic procedure called ablation to remove the diseased tissue to avoid progression to cancer. BARRX is a procedure performed during upper endoscopy to ablate (or coagulate) abnormal Barrett’s tissue by heating it until it is no longer viable or alive. Cryospray Ablation is a procedure performed during upper endoscopy. This technique removes unwanted tissue by freezing it with a spray of liquid nitrogen.