The esophagus is the tube that carries food and liquid to your stomach. In Barrett's esophagus, or Barrett's syndrome, the cells that line the esophagus start to change.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause Barrett's. Acid from your stomach backs up into the esophagus and causes the cells to change. They start to look like the cells that line the stomach and intestines.
When you have Barrett's, you are slightly more likely to get cancer of the esophagus. Regular testing is important to watch for signs of more changes that may lead to cancer.
If tests show that the Barrett's cells continue to change and could become cancer, it's called dysplasia. You may need a procedure to remove the cells.
A doctor can use an endoscope, or scope, to check and treat this condition. A scope is a thin, flexible, lighted viewing tool. It goes into the mouth and down the throat.
During the procedure, you will get medicines through a needle in your vein (IV) in your arm or hand. These medicines reduce pain and will make you feel relaxed and drowsy. Your throat will also be numbed. You may not remember much about the procedure.
During treatment, the doctor can use tools in the scope to remove or destroy the changing cells. You may have:
The doctor uses heat to destroy the cells. One type of RF treatment is called Barrx ablation.
It destroys cells by freezing them, usually with liquid nitrogen.
Your doctor cuts the damaged tissue from your esophagus.
You may also need surgery to remove part of the esophagus. Your doctor will recommend the best treatment based on your test results.
After most treatments, you will be observed for 1 to 2 hours until the medicines wear off. Don't eat or drink until feeling returns to your throat. When you recover, you can go home.
After RF treatment, your esophagus may feel tight or narrow when you swallow. You may have some chest pain.
If you had cryotherapy, you may feel some discomfort in your neck and chest. Your esophagus may feel tight or narrow when you swallow.
If you had surgery, you will stay in the hospital and will take longer to recover.
You may still need to treat the symptoms of GERD. Your doctor may give you information about that.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: March 28, 2018
Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine
& Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology & Brian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal Medicine
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