Barrett’s Esophagus

Specialists in Gastroenterology

Board Certified Gastroenterologists located in St. Louis, MO

Do you suffer from constant heartburn and acid reflux? Then you may have an uncommon condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. The team at Specialists in Gastroenterology in St. Louis, Missouri, offers diagnostic screenings, tests, and treatments for Barret’s esophagus. They can help create a personalized treatment plan and also make sure this doesn’t develop into life-threatening cancer. If you suffer from regular heartburn and acid reflux, call the office to schedule an appointment or book online today.

Barrett's Esophagus Q & A

What is Barrett’s esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus occurs when the tissue of your esophagus becomes gradually replaced by tissue resembling the kind found in your intestinal lining. 

People with this condition usually suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Barrett’s esophagus is also associated with a small but elevated risk of a serious form of esophageal cancer.

What causes Barrett’s esophagus?

Unfortunately, the exact cause of Barrett’s esophagus currently remains unknown. However, most people with Barrett’s esophagus also experience GERD. 

Doctors think that constant acid reflux may damage the lining of the esophagus, which then repairs itself with the kind of cells found in Barrett’s esophagus.

However, some people with Barrett’s Esophagus never experience GERD. It’s unknown what causes Barrett’s esophagus in these individuals.

What causes Barrett’s esophagus?

Factors that elevate your risk of having Barrett’s esophagus include:

  • Chronic heartburn and acid reflux
  • Being older than 50
  • Being male or Caucasian
  • Obesity
  • Current or past smoking
  • Caucasian
  • Having a family history of Barrett’s esophagus or cancer

If you fit any of these criteria, you may want to schedule a visit with Specialists in Gastroenterology.

How is Barrett’s esophagus diagnosed?

In order to check if you have Barrett’s esophagus, your doctor may use endoscopy. During endoscopy, they pass a small tube with a camera on the end down your throat to check if the lining of your esophagus has changed. If they find anything concerning, they take a biopsy of esophageal tissue.

A pathologist then closely observes this tissue sample in a laboratory to determine the extent of the tissue change. They will then classify the degree of change as either no dysplasia, low dysplasia, or high dysplasia.

“Dysplasia” refers to precancerous cells the pathologist finds in your tissue sample.

How is Barrett’s esophagus treated?

Depending on the level of dysplasia your condition displays, the team at Specialists in Gastroenterology may recommend different treatments.

For those with no dysplasia, periodic monitoring may be enough. For those with low dysplasia, they may recommend a small, localized radio-frequency ablation to remove the precancerous cells. 

For those with high dysplasia, they may destroy the precancerous masses using endoscopic mucosal resection.

How can I reduce my risk for Barrett’s esophagus?

You can reduce your risk for Barrett’s esophagus by:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Changing your diet to avoid food that triggers acid reflux 
  • Raising the head of your bed

If you suffer from frequent heartburn or acid reflux, you may be at risk for Barrett’s esophagus. To learn more and to get expert treatment, call Specialists in Gastroenterology or schedule an appointment online today.