The most encouraging Barrett’s facts for someone diagnosed with this condition is Barrett’s can be managed quite easily and it usually does not lead to further complications.
Barrett’s esophagus is a severe medical condition of the esophagus that is caused in patients already suffering from Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The esophagus or the food pipe is responsible for carrying food and other liquids to the stomach. In the Barrett’s esophagus condition, the tissue lining along the food pipe is the most affected and the normal tissue lining is replaced by an abnormal lining that resembles the intestinal lining. Hence, this medical condition is also referred to as the intestinal metaplasia.
Facts Related to Barrett’s Esophagus
There is a lot of information surrounding the Barrett’s esophagus condition that most GERD patients and other people are unaware of. Let us take a look at some of the facts.
- One of the important Barrett’s facts is that this chronic condition doesn’t occur in all patients who have GERD. Only a small percentage of patients (10%-15%) with GERD go on to develop Barrett’s Esophagus.
- Since, this esophagus condition doesn’t have any known or visible symptoms, it is important to undergo diagnosis in order to determine the existence of this condition.
- There are different methods of diagnosing Barrett’s esophagus condition although the primary method is endoscopy. This procedure reveals an abnormally pink lining in the esophagus, which resembles the cells of the intestine also known as goblet cells. A biopsy of the tissue lining is used for confirming the same.
- Currently, there are no specific criteria needed for screening GERD patients for possible Barrett’s esophagus condition. Those patients who should not be taken off their ongoing acid suppression therapy can undergo screening endoscopy for determination of this condition.
- The abnormal change in the lining of the cells including their structure and appearance is known as Dysplasia. The cells can become malignant or cancerous if the condition moves from low grade to high grade Dysplasia.
- One of the important Barrett’s facts related to diagnosis is that this medical condition is considered as a pre-malignant condition for esophageal cancer and gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma. In fact, dysplasia is also considered as a pre-malignant condition. It is not necessary that all Barrett’s esophagus patients will develop cancer of the esophagus but a high risk of adenocarcinoma cannot be ruled out.
- If a patient has been diagnosed with dysplasia then periodic endoscopic biopsy becomes necessary. Biopsy is performed for Barrett’s mucosa to ascertain dysplasia.
- One of the known Barrett’s facts is that patients with high probability of dysplasia should undergo biopsy surveillance of Barrett’s esophagus at least twice annually. If dysplasia is not revealed then it is recommended to perform surveillance once every 3 years.
- If a patient has been identified with low grade dysplasia, then endoscopic biopsy surveillance is necessary and should be performed once every 6 months for an indefinite period of time.
- If a patient has been identified with high grade dysplasia then the management involves immediate biopsy to rule out adenocarcinoma. The most common procedure for esophageal cancer and high grade dysplasia is Esophagectomy, which involves surgical removal of the esophagus.
- Last but not the least; if a diagnosis for Barrett’s esophagus condition reveals uncertain results then it is recommended to take a second opinion as diagnosis for Barrett’s is more expensive than GERD.