Barrett's esophagus

Barrett's esophagus

DiseaseDisorder infobox
Name = Barrett's esophagus

Caption = Endoscopic image of Barrett's esophagus, which is the area of red mucosa projecting like a tongue. Biopsies showed intestinal metaplasia.
ICD10 = ICD10|K|22|7|k|20
ICD9 = ICD9|530.85
OMIM = 109350
MedlinePlus = 001143
eMedicineSubj = radio
eMedicineTopic = 73
DiseasesDB = 1246
MeshID = D001471

Barrett's esophagus (UK: Oesophagus) (sometimes called Barrett's syndrome, CELLO, columnar epithelium lined lower oesophagus or colloquially as Barrett's) refers to an abnormal change (metaplasia) in the cells of the lower end of the esophagus thought to be caused by damage from chronic acid exposure, or reflux esophagitis.cite journal |author=Stein H, Siewert J |title=Barrett's esophagus: pathogenesis, epidemiology, functional abnormalities, malignant degeneration, and surgical management |journal=Dysphagia |volume=8 |issue=3 |pages=276–88 |year=1993 |pmid=8359051 |doi=10.1007/BF01354551] Barrett's esophagus is found in about 10% of patients who seek medical care for heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux). It is considered to be a premalignant condition and is associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer.cite journal |author=Koppert L, Wijnhoven B, van Dekken H, Tilanus H, Dinjens W |title=The molecular biology of esophageal adenocarcinoma |journal=J Surg Oncol |volume=92 |issue=3 |pages=169–90 |year=2005 |pmid=16299787 |doi=10.1002/jso.20359]

The condition is named after Dr. Norman Barrett (1903–1979), Australian-born British surgeon at St Thomas' Hospital, who described the condition in 1957.cite journal |author=Barrett N |title=The lower esophagus lined by columnar epithelium |journal=Surgery |volume=41 |issue=6 |pages=881–94 |year=1957 |pmid=13442856]

Causes and Symptoms

Barrett's esophagus is caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD (UK: GORD), which allows the stomach's contents to damage the cells lining the lower esophagus. However, not every person who has GERD will develop Barrett's esophagus. Researchers are unable to predict which heartburn sufferers will develop Barrett's esophagus. While there is no relationship between the severity of heartburn and the development of Barrett's esophagus, there is a relationship between chronic heartburn and the development of Barrett's esophagus. Sometimes people with Barrett's esophagus will have no heartburn symptoms at all. In rare cases, damage to the esophagus may be caused by swallowing a corrosive substance such as lye.

The change from normal to premalignant cells that indicates Barrett's esophagus does not cause any particular symptoms. However, warning signs that should not be ignored include:

* frequent and longstanding heartburn
* trouble swallowing (dysphagia)
* vomiting blood
* pain under the breastbone where the esophagus meets the stomach
* unintentional weight loss because eating is painful


Barrett's esophagus is marked by the presence of columnar epithelia in the lower esophagus, replacing the normal squamous cell epithelium—an example of metaplasia. The secretory columnar epithelium may be more able to withstand the erosive action of the gastric secretions; however, this metaplasia confers an increased risk of adenocarcinoma.cite journal |author=Fléjou J |title=Barrett's oesophagus: from metaplasia to dysplasia and cancer |journal=Gut |volume=54 Suppl 1 |issue= |pages=i6–12 |year=2005 |pmid=15711008 |doi=10.1136/gut.2004.041525]

The metaplastic columnar cells may be of two types: gastric (similar to those in the stomach, which is NOT technically Barrett's esophagus) or colonic (similar to cells in the intestines). A biopsy of the affected area will often contain a mixture of the two. Colonic-type metaplasia is the type of metaplasia associated with risk of malignancy in genetically susceptible people.

The metaplasia of Barrett's esophagus is grossly visible through a gastroscope, but biopsy specimens must be examined under a microscope to determine whether cells are gastric or colonic in nature. Colonic metaplasia is usually identified by finding goblet cells in the epithelium and is necessary for the true diagnosis of Barrett's.

There are many histologic mimics of Barrett's esophagus (i.e. goblet cells occurring in the transitional epithelium of normal esophageal submucosal gland ducts, "pseudogoblet cells" in which abundant foveolar (gastric) type mucin simulates the acid mucin true goblet cells). Assessment of relationship to submucosal glands and transitional-type epithelium with examination of multiple levels through the tissue may allow the pathologist to reliably distinguish between goblet cells of submucosal gland ducts and true Barrett's esophagus (specialized columnar metaplasia). Use of the histochemical stain Alcian blue pH 2.5 is also frequently used to distinguish true intestinal-type mucins from their histologic mimics. Recently, immunohistochemical analysis with antibodies to CDX-2 (specific for mid and hindgut intestinal derivation) has also been utilized to identify true intestinal-type metaplastic cells.

After the initial diagnosis of Barrett's esophagus is rendered, affected persons undergo annual surveillance to detect changes that indicate higher risk to progression to cancer: development of dysplasia. There is considerable variability in assessment for dysplasia among pathologists. Recently, gastroenterology and GI pathology societies have recommended that any diagnosis of high grade dysplasia in Barrett's be confirmed by at least two fellowship trained GI pathologists prior to definitive treatment for patients.


Current recommendations include routine endoscopy and biopsy (looking for dysplastic changes) every 12 months or so while the underlying reflux is controlled with proton pump inhibitor drugs in combination with measures to prevent reflux. Proton pump inhibitor drugs have not yet been proven to prevent esophageal cancer. Laser treatment is used in severe dysplasia, while overt malignancy may require surgery, radiation therapy, or systemic chemotherapy. Additionally, a recent 5-year random-controlled trial has shown that photodynamic therapy using photofrin is statistically more effective in eliminating dysplastic growth areas than sole use of a proton pump inhibitor.cite journal |author=Overholt BF, Wang KK, Burdick JS, et al. |title=Five-year efficacy and safety of photodynamic therapy with Photofrin in Barrett's high-grade dysplasia. |journal=Gastrointestinal endoscopy |volume=66 |issue=3 |pages=460–8 |year=2007 |pmid=17643436 |doi=10.1016/j.gie.2006.12.037] There is presently no reliable way to determine which patients with Barrett's esophagus will go on to develop esophageal cancer, although a recent study found that the detection of three different genetic abnormalities were associated with as much as a 79% chance of developing cancer in 6 years.cite journal |author=Galipeau P, Li X, Blount PL, Maley CC, Sanchez CA Odze RD, Ayub K, Rabinovitch PS, Vaughan TV, Reid BJ |title=NSAIDs modulate CDKN2A, TP53, and DNA content risk for progression to esophageal adenocarcinoma |journal=PLoS Medicine |volume=4 |issue=2 |pages=e67 |year=2007 |pmid=17326708 |doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0040067 |journal=PLoS Medicine] "Endoscopic mucosal resection" (EMR) has also been evaluated as a management technique.cite journal |author=Reshamwala P, Darwin P |title=Endoscopic management of early gastric cancer |journal=Curr Opin Gastroenterol |volume=22 |issue=5 |pages=541–5 |year=2006 |pmid=16891887 |doi=10.1097/01.mog.0000239870.04457.80]

Barrx Radiofrequency Ablation

The HALO Radiofrequency Ablation Technology System has been studied in clinical studies conducted since 2003. Complete eradication of non-dysplastic and dysplastic disease at rates exceeding 90% has been shown in numerous studies.

The HALO ablation technology is designed to remove the Barrett's epithelium in a short, well-tolerated endoscopic procedure and offers an alternative to "watchful waiting" for patients with intestinal metaplasia, low-grade dysplasia, and high-grade dysplasia.

This procedure is now commonly performed as an Outpatient procedure in many hospitals throughout the United states.

Additionally an operation known as a "Nissen fundoplication" can reduce the reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus.cite journal |author=Abbas A, Deschamps C, Cassivi SD, et al. |title=The role of laparoscopic fundoplication in Barrett’s esophagus |journal=Annals of Thoracic Surgery |volume=77 |issue=2 |pages=393–396 |year=2004 |pmid=14759403 |doi=10.1016/S0003-4975(03)01352-3]

In a variety of studies, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), like aspirin, have shown evidence of preventing esophageal cancer in Barrett's esophagus patients.cite journal |author=Corley DA, Kerlikowske K, Verma R, Buffler P |title=Protective association of aspirin/NSAIDs and esophageal cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. |journal=Gastroenterology |volume=124 |pages=47–56 |year=2003 |pmid=12512029 |doi=10.1053/gast.2003.50008] cite journal |author=Vaughan TL, Dong LM, Blount PL, Ayub K, Odze RD, Sanchez, CA, Rabinovitch PS, Reid BJ |title=Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and risk of neoplastic progression in Barrett's oesophagus: a prospective study |journal=Lancet Oncol |volume=6 |pages=945–52 |year=2005 |pmid=16321762 |doi=10.1016/S1470-2045(05)70431-9] However, none of these studies have been randomized, placebo controlled trials, which are considered the gold standard for evaluating a medical intervention. In addition, the best dose of NSAIDs for cancer prevention is not yet known.


External links

* [ Barrett's Esophagus] at National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD)
* [ Barrett's Info] a peer-reviewed web site of information on Barrett's esophagus and its clinical management.
* [ Barrett's Esophagus] at Johns Hopkins University
* [ Barrett's Esophagus Video Overview] and [ Barrett's Esophagus Health Information] at Mayo Clinic
* [ The Barrett's Oesophagus Foundation] The UK charity committed to research into prevention of adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus

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  • Barrett's esophagus — Bar·rett s esophagus bar its , ber n metaplasia of the lower esophagus that is characterized by replacement of squamous epithelium with columnar epithelium, occurs esp. as a result of chronic gastroesophageal reflux, and is associated with an… …   Medical dictionary

  • Barrett's esophagus — noun An abnormal change (metaplasia) in the cells of the lower end of the esophagus thought to be caused by damage from chronic acid exposure, or reflux esophagitis …   Wiktionary

  • Barrett's esophagus — n. condition caused by stomach acid reflux in which ulcers form in the lower esophagus and the epithelial cells are replaced with abnormal cells similar to those lining the stomach (Gastroenterology) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Barrett-Syndrom — Klassifikation nach ICD 10 K22.1 Barrett Ulkus K22.7 Barrett Ösophagus …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Barrett-Ösophagus — Klassifikation nach ICD 10 K22.1 Barrett Ulkus K22.7 Barrett Ösophagus …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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