Definition of Barrett’s esophagus
Barrett’s esophagus is a disorder in which the lining of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach) is damaged by stomach acid.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
When you eat, food passes from the throat to the stomach through the esophagus (also called the food pipe or swallowing tube). Once food is in the stomach, a ring of muscles keeps it from leaking backward into the esophagus.
Barrett’s esophagus itself does not cause symptoms. The acid reflux that causes Barrett’s esophagus often leads to symptoms of heartburn. However, many patients with this condition do not have symptoms.
Signs and tests
If GERD symptoms are severe or they come back after you have been treated, the doctor may perform an endoscopy.
TREATMENT OF GERD
People with Barrett’s esophagus have an increased risk of esophageal cancer. Still, only a small number of people with Barrett’s esophagus develop cancer. Follow-up to look for dysplasia or cancer is often advised.
George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/1/2009