Barrett's Esophagus

What is Barrett’s esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus is a condition caused by long-term acid reflux, also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), a backflow of stomach acid to the esophagus, which irritates and damages the normal esophageal tissue lining and changes it to tissue similar to intestinal lining. People who have GERD may experience heartburn (burning sensation in the lower chest area) and regurgitation (the sensation of food or sour liquid refluxing back into the esophagus). Other symptoms may include: chest discomfort (which may be difficult to differentiate from cardiac-related pain), asthma, cough, nausea, bad breath and chronic hoarseness.

Not all people with GERD have Barrett’s esophagus. Moreover, not all people who have Barrett’s Esophagus have symptoms of GERD. About 10% of people with chronic symptoms of GERD will develop Barrett’s esophagus. Although only a small percentage of people with GERD will develop Barrett’s Esophagus, if left untreated, this condition has some risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma (a serious esophageal cancer condition). Therefore, the early detection and treatment is highly recommended.

Barrett’s esophagus can only be diagnosed by upper endoscopy and confirmed by biopsies during upper endoscopy. If biopsies show dysplasia (tissue changes), then your doctor may recommend endoscopy therapy to remove the abnormal tissue. One of the endoscopy therapies is radiofrequency ablation.