Barrett’s Esophagus is a condition in which the lining of the esophagus changes. The cells of the lining become more similar to that of the small intestine and occur where the esophagus and stomach meet.
Barrett’s is believed to be caused by chronic inflammation from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and is more common in those who developed GERD at a young age and or who have had GERD for longer periods of time.
Diagnosing Barrett’s is accomplished by obtaining a biopsy of the lining of your esophagus. Your physician will perform an upper endoscopy to obtain the biopsy. An Upper Endoscopy is a procedure performed under sedation. Your physician will insert a small tube into your esophagus to take biopsies and evaluate your esophagus.
Barrett’s Esophagus cannot be reversed and some patients with Barrett’s esophagus may develop precancerous changes in the lining of the esophagus called dysplasia. While uncommon, these changes can progress into esophageal cancer. Your physician will recommend close follow up of your condition and likely prescribe oral medication to manage GERD symptoms. Should you develop dysplasia, further treatments including ablation (destroys abnormal cells with heat) or cryotherapy (destroys abnormal cells with cold) may be recommended.