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Barrett’s Esophagus

Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which the lining of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach) is replaced by lining similar to that of your intestine. This results from an irritation in the lining of the esophagus, caused by chronic reflux – or the moving backward – of contents from the stomach and small intestine into the esophagus. Long-standing gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) can lead to Barrett’s esophagus. It is important to note that most patients with GERD will not develop Barrett’s, but some will.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Barrett’s esophagus is a potential complication of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). So, while Barrett’s Esophagus itself doesn’t cause symptoms, people may experience symptoms of GERD, which may include:
  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation
  • Trouble swallowing (dysphasia)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach or chest pain
  • Bad breath
  • Respiratory problems such as wheezing
  • Wearing away of teeth

Treatment Options:

Upper endoscopy (EGD) is essential in the diagnosis and management of Barrett’s esophagus. Any patient with long-standing GERD symptoms must be screened with an EGD for Barrett’s because of its increased risk of cancer of the esophagus. If you are diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, your doctor will most likely recommend periodic endoscopy to monitor the cells in your esophagus and treatment for GERD, which will include medication or lifestyle changes. Treatment for Barrett’s esophagus depends on the extent of the abnormal cell growth in your esophagus. If biopsies from endoscopy show low- or high-grade dysplasia, more aggressive treatments may be recommended including burning part of the esophagus (ablation), freezing part of the esophagus (cryotherapy), or removing the abnormal area (endoscopic resection).