Barrett’s Esophagus


Barrett’s esophagus is a serious complication of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic regurgitation of stomach acid into the lower esophagus. This is when esophagus tissue changes to intestinal tissue, exposing the esophagus to stomach acid and injuring the lining. Occurring in about 10 percent of people with GERD, it can increase the chance of developing into cancer.


Barrett’s esophagus symptoms are usually related to GERD and include:

  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Trouble swallowing food
  • Dry cough or clearing throat repeatedly
  • Sour tasting fluid backing up into your mouth
  • Frequent burping or belching

(Chest pain and trouble swallowing can be signs of something more serious and require immediate medical care.)


First, you’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam. You’ll talk about your symptoms, and your doctor may order tests such as an EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy), also called upper GI endoscopy. In this test, a lighted tube equipped with a tiny camera (endoscope) is inserted down the throat to look for changes to the tissue in the esophagus. During the procedure, a doctor can also remove tissue samples (biopsy) from the esophagus by inserting instruments through the endoscope to gather cells. 

Services & Treatment

Barrett’s esophagus treatment depends on whether there are cellular changes noted on the biopsy and the degree of changes. If there’s no dysplasia, your doctor may recommend medication to reduce the amount of acid the body produces. 

Your doctor might recommend treating any GERD symptoms with medication or with surgery to tighten the muscle that controls the flow of stomach acid.

Your doctor might recommend dietary/lifestyle modifications to control GERD.

If your case is more serious, your doctor may recommend radiofrequency ablation, which uses heat to remove the abnormal tissue.

If you've been diagnosed with Barrett's esophagus, it's important to have regular checkups to help prevent cancer.

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