Barrett’s Esophagus Overview

Barrett’s esophagus is a precancerous condition that affects the lining of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a disorder in which the stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus causing damage to the esophageal lining.

In some patients, longstanding GERD can cause serious damage to esophageal cells. Over time, this damage can result in inflammation and genetic changes that cause abnormal cell development. The esophageal tissue takes on a different appearance called intestinal metaplasia or Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus increases patient’s risk for developing esophageal cancer.

Some patients with Barrett’s esophagus will experience typical GERD symptoms such as heartburn and indigestion. Other patients may experience no symptoms at all.

All patients should be treated with medications used to decrease acid reflux into the esophagus. Some patients with dysplasia may be candidates for an endoscopic procedure called ablation. 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.