What is Barrett’s esophagus?
Barrett’s esophagus occurs when the normal cells in the lower esophagus, or food pipe, transform into cells of the intestinal lining.
Normal esophagus lining is made up of smooth, pale pink cells. When it is repeatedly exposed to stomach acid, the acid eats at the surface and damages it. As a result, it then transforms into a salmon-colored, bumpy, column-shaped cells that produce mucus.
What are the symptoms?
Since this condition is a serious complication of GERD, the indicators are very similar. Patients with Barrett’s syndrome may experience frequent heartburn, chest pains, indigestion, or regurgitation. Other common symptoms include incessant coughing, hoarseness, or an sore or itchy throat. However some may not experience any symptoms.
Unfortunately, people will ignore symptoms and take antacids or continue to use other methods to ease heartburn. However, ignoring the symptoms will only make it worse. Repeated exposure to stomach acid wears down the esophagus over time.
How serious is Barrett’s Syndrome?
While Barrett’s esophagus is not a malignant condition, it is serious. If left untreated and ignored, the condition may become cancerous. Patients with Barrett’s esophagus have an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.
How is Barrett’s esophagus treated?
While there are many ways to treat Barrett’s esophagus, there are two main methods. These methods include endoscopic mucosal resection, commonly referred to as EMR, and radiofrequency ablation, known as RFA.
Endoscopic Mucosal Resection (EMR)
Endoscopic mucosal resection, or EMR, is a treatment solution for Barrett’s esophagus. EMR uses an upper endoscope and other special tools to cut out and remove the abnormal looking portion of the esophagus. It is important to remove the abnormal tissue because it could potentially develop into esophageal cancer.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
Radio-frequency ablation, or RFA for short, is another treatment option for Barrett’s esophagus. RFA uses heat produced from high-energy radio-frequency waves. These waves are then transmitted into the lining of the esophagus to eliminate the abnormal cells.
RFA then uses a special tool, known as a catheter, in order to destroy both pre-cancerous cells, as well as cancerous cells. The catheter is inserted into the esophagus by using an upper endoscope.
RFA may sound like it is uncomfortable, but it is actually a minimally invasive procedure. If you require a RFA, your physician will make you as comfortable as possible during the procedure.
Barrett’s esophagus requires professional diagnosis and treatment. Lucky for you, it is one of the many conditions that SAGA identifies and cares for. Get in touch with one of our expert physicians today.