What is Barrett’s Esophagus?
Barrett's Esophagus is a condition in which the tissue lining the esophagus—the muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach—is replaced by tissue that is similar to the lining of the intestine. This process is called intestinal metaplasia.
No signs or symptoms are associated with Barrett's Esophagus, but it is commonly found in people with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). A small number of people with Barrett's Esophagus develop a rare, but often deadly, type of cancer of the esophagus.
The cause of Barrett’s Esophagus
The exact cause of Barrett's Esophagus is not known, but GERD is a risk factor for the condition. Although people, who do not have GERD, can have Barrett's Esophagus, the condition is found about three to five times more often in people who also have GERD.
Since Barrett's Esophagus is more commonly seen in people with GERD, most physicians recommend treating GERD symptoms with acid-reducing drugs.
Improvement in GERD symptoms may lower the risk of developing Barrett's Esophagus. A surgical procedure may be recommended if medications are not effective in treating GERD.
How is Barrett's Esophagus diagnosed?
Because Barrett's Esophagus does not cause any symptoms, we recommend that adults, older than 40, who have had GERD for a number of years undergo an endoscopy and biopsies to check for the condition. Barrett's Esophagus can only be diagnosed using an upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy to obtain biopsies of the esophagus.
For more information on the HALO Procedure, follow this link.
Source: AMA Complete Encyclopedia, Copyright 2003, American Medical Association
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