What is Barrett's Esophagus?

By Dr. Israel Crespo - Updated May 31st, 2017

Barrett's Esophagus Cross Section
Cross section of the lower end of the esophagus illustrating a case of Barrett's Esophagus.

Barrett's Esophagus (BE) is an abnormal lining located at the lower end of the esophagus, it is composed of cells that are not the usual esophageal lining but more typically found in the stomach or small intestine.


Chronic acid exposure of the lower esophagus to the corrosive effect of the gastric acids and other component of gastric juices which leads to transformation of the normal lining cell of the esophagus to the abnormal lining cells which is more predisposed to malignant transformation over time.


The most common symptoms of BE are unfortunately NO Symptoms, but it presence should be suspected in patients that have symptoms of chronic acid reflux including heartburn, acid regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, painful swallowing, and other unusual symptoms such as hoarseness; chronic sore throat, recurrent coughing particularly at night, chest pain not of cardiac origin. Alarming symptoms of complication to BE are progressive difficulty swallowing, vomiting blood, anemia, and weight loss.


In patients with suggestive symptoms, diagnosis is established by performance of an upper endoscopic procedure (EGD), which is commonly performed by a gastroenterologist. The procedure is done under sedation for patient comfort and extremely safe in hands of an experience gastroenterologist. During the procedure, the gastroenterologist looks for the abnormal lining at the end of the esophagus and performs biopsies following established protocols to diagnose the presence of Barrett's mucosa and pre-malignant changes known as dysplasia. The presence of dysplasia indicates an increase risks for esophageal cancer and will indicate that additional intervention is needed.


Fortunately, most patients with BE won't develop esophageal cancer and the use of acid blockers have been established as a good treatment option to control acid reflux as well as to reduce the risk of dysplasia development. In addition to acid blockers other lifestyles modifications will help to reduce esophageal acid exposure including weight loss, smoking cessation, dietary changes and elevation of head of the bed.

For patients with dysplasia, your gastroenterologist can offer treatment options including ABLATION, of the abnormal Barrett's esophagus using radio frequency ablation technique. The practice of Rosario & Crespo, MD are one of the few gastroenterologist practices that do this type of the technique in the Tampa Bay Area. Please call us to make an appointment to be evaluated if you are having symptoms which could suggest the possibility of this disease.