Barrett’s esophagus is the result of longstanding acid reflux that causes abnormal changes to occur in the affected cells of the esophagus. This condition increases your risk of developing esophageal cancer. Fortunately, the risk is small at 0.5% chance per year or 10% risk over 20 years. It is very important, however, to properly manage your GERD to prevent worsening of your condition and progression to cancer.
In addition to periodic surveillance, Houston Heartburn and Reflux Center, Barrett’s patients are offered a new treatment modality called ablation.
What is Ablation?
The abnormal cells of the affected esophagus are burnt using a special instrument inserted through the endoscope. Normal cells grow in the subsequent weeks after treatment and replace the esophageal lining. This procedure is reserved for advanced cases of Barrett’s esophagus. It should be noted that ablation does not eliminate GERD. Patients need to continue anti-reflux medications or undergo an anti-reflux surgery like the Nissen Fundoplication. The Nissen procedure reconstructs the weakened Lower Esophageal Sphincter, improving the barrier function to acid reflux. A successful anti-reflux procedure has a high likelihood of preventing esophageal cancer.
At Houston Heartburn and Reflux Center, we closely follow our Barrett’s patients. Upper endoscopy is performed every 1 to 3 years in order to evaluate the extent and progression of Barrett’s disease.