Barrett’s esophagus is a gastrointestinal condition in which tissue that normally lines your intestines replaces the normal tissue that lines your esophagus. Doctors refer to this as intestinal metaplasia.
Though researchers are still investigating the underlying cause of Barrett’s esophagus, certain factors may increase your risk of developing the condition, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), obesity, and smoking.
Barrett’s esophagus doesn’t cause symptoms. However, many people with this gastrointestinal condition have a history of GERD and may experience frequent heartburn or difficulty swallowing.
If you have acid reflux, ongoing medical monitoring is essential to manage symptoms and screen for related health complications like Barrett’s esophagus. Though the risk is small, you may be more likely to develop a rare form of cancer, known as esophageal adenocarcinoma, if you have Barrett’s esophagus.
The board-certified gastroenterologists at Digestive Disease Care conduct comprehensive evaluations to diagnose gastrointestinal conditions like Barrett’s esophagus. During your exam, the team reviews symptoms and medical history. To diagnose Barrett’s esophagus, the team performs an upper endoscopy and biopsy.
The intestinal metaplasia may not affect the entire lining of your esophagus, which makes Barrett's esophagus challenging to diagnose. At Digestive Disease Care, the team takes up to eight tissue samples during your biopsy to ensure you get the most accurate diagnosis.
The gastroenterology team at Digestive Disease Care develops individualized treatment plans for the management of your Barrett’s esophagus based on the severity of your intestinal metaplasia and your overall health. If you have GERD, the team takes the time to discuss and address the causes of your acid reflux and develops a treatment plan to minimize your symptoms, which may reduce your risk of esophageal cancer.
The team may also recommend various procedures to address the tissue changes in your esophagus, such as endoscopic ablative therapies or endoscopic mucosal resection. Surgery to remove the affected portions of your esophagus, known as esophagectomy, may also be recommended.
When diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, the team has you return to the office for regular exams to assess the risk of cancer development.
To schedule an evaluation with the gastroenterology experts at Digestive Disease Care, call or book an appointment online today.