Barrett’s esophagus doesn’t cause any symptoms but is often a complication of having gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you’re regularly experiencing acid reflux or heartburn, you should visit the board-certified gastroenterologists at Illinois Gastroenterology Group in Gurnee, Evanston, Skokie, Libertyville, Lindenhurst, Highland Park, & Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois, for a prompt diagnosis and expert treatment. Leaving Barrett’s esophagus untreated can increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer, a potentially life-threatening condition, so call Illinois Gastroenterology Group today to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online.
Barrett’s esophagus is a chronic condition affecting your esophagus – the pipe connecting your throat to your stomach.
If you have this condition, the lining of your esophagus gets replaced with a different type of tissue, which would normally be lining your intestines. Barrett’s esophagus can, in a few cases, lead to a serious type of esophageal cancer.
Most people who develop Barrett’s esophagus have had long-term acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
GERD develops when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) at the bottom of your esophagus starts to allow stomach acid to come out of your stomach. The acid burns your esophagus, causing inflammation and heartburn.
Over time, the lining of your esophagus sustains permanent damage from the constant acid attacks. For unknown reasons, your body repairs the damage using the wrong type of cells, causing Barrett’s esophagus.
It’s also possible for Barrett’s esophagus to develop even if you’ve never had acid reflux or GERD, but why this may happen isn’t clear. Your risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus also increases if you are:
If anyone else in your family has had Barrett’s esophagus or esophageal cancer, that also increases your risk.
First, you attend a consultation where your provider at Illinois Gastroenterology Group examines you and discusses all your symptoms. If they suspect Barrett’s esophagus, they can confirm the diagnosis using endoscopy.
During an endoscopy, you’re under sedation while your provider passes a tube with a tiny camera on it called an endoscope down your esophagus. If there are any changes to the tissues, they take a biopsy, which is a small tissue sample, for analysis in the laboratory.
Treatment for Barrett’s esophagus depends on how many precancerous cells the lab finds in your sample. The more abnormal cells you have, the higher your dysplasia level.
If you have no dysplasia, your provider might recommend regular checkups to make sure your condition doesn’t worsen. If you have some dysplasia, your provider can remove the affected cells. If your dysplasia is high, your provider can destroy the cells using cryotherapy (freezing treatment) or photodynamic therapy, which combines light energy and light-sensitive chemicals.
The team at Illinois Gastroenterology Group is now using a new, advanced endoscopic treatment for Barrett’s esophagus called the Barrx™ Radiofrequency Ablation System.
During the Barrx procedure, your provider uses an endoscope to view the lining of your esophagus. They insert a sizing balloon to measure the treatment area, then remove the abnormal tissue with the Barrx radiofrequency ablation device.
If your Barrett’s esophagus is severe, you might need to undergo surgery to remove the affected section of your esophagus.
If you have GERD, you can help to prevent Barrett’s esophagus or treat it before dysplasia worsens by visiting Illinois Gastroenterology Group. Call today or book an appointment online.