Barrett’s esophagus is considered to be an extremely serious complication of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The Barrett’s esophagus condition can be determined when the tissue lining your esophagus transforms to look like the tissue lining your intestine. This condition is known to occur in those patients who are already suffering from chronic symptoms of GERD.
In order to understand how Barrett’s esophagus condition is caused, it is important to know what GERD is. GERD is a type of digestive disorder where the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle ring situated between the stomach and the esophagus, is severely affected.
Do GERD symptoms cause Barrett’s esophagus?
It is difficult to determine the exact cause of Barrett’s esophagus although most patients suffering from GERD have a greater risk of the Barrett’s esophagus condition. It is often believed that gastroesophageal reflux disease is responsible for pushing the content of your stomach to wash back into your esophagus. This can cause considerable damage to your esophagus. As a result, the esophagus will try and heal the damage. During this healing process, the cells or tissue lining of the esophagus can transform into something that resembles the tissue lining of your intestine resulting in Barrett’s esophagus.
Surprisingly, Barrett’s esophagus has also been diagnosed in people who have no previous experience of acid reflux or heartburn. Hence, the actual cause of Barrett’s esophagus remains a mystery.
Barrett’s esophagus with Dysplasia
Barrett’s esophagus can lead to low grade or high grade dysplasia and hence regular endoscopic surveillance is recommended for such patients.
Low-grade dysplasia in Barrett’s esophagus
A proper diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus can reveal low-grade dysplasia in patients. Such patients are at a higher risk of esophagus cancer. Low-grade dysplasia can be diminished by treatment of the reflux and sometimes it goes away on its own. Hence, it is always recommended to follow through with repeat biopsies and endoscopy in order to ensure complete recovery from low-grade dysplasia. Once the low-grade dysplasia goes away further treatments are not required.
Different patients have different conditions and in some cases, the doctor may recommend a treatment for removal of a specific area, which is usually the dysplasia and Barrett’s esophagus area.
High-grade dysplasia in Barrett’s esophagus
A proper diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus can also reveal high-grade dysplasia in some patients. This means that there are some cells within the Barrett’s esophagus area that look extremely abnormal under a microscope. As compared to the low-grade dysplasia, this condition is considered to be an advanced pre-cancerous condition of your esophagus.
A Barrett’s esophagus patient diagnosed with high-grade dysplasia is at a much higher risk of getting cancer of the esophagus.
Once diagnosed with high-grade dysplasia, most doctors recommend repeat endoscopy tests as well as biopsies to ensure you don’t have cancer already or if cancer was not identified in the first test. Most doctors also recommend different dysplasia treatments for patients as high-grade dysplasia is linked very strongly to cancer. The treatment of course would be different for different patients depending on several factors including severity of the condition.