UNDERSTANDING BARRETT’S ESOPHAGUS
Barrett’s Esophagus is a pre-cancerous condition of the lining of the esophagus caused by acid reflux which introduces stomach acid and enzymes to the esophagus. Over time, cells are damaged, resulting in genetic changes that alter the esophageal lining. The esophageal tissue may then become intestinal tissue and potentially lead to Esophageal Cancer (www.ecan.org). There are different grades of Barrett’s esophagus based on the degree of cellular changes. It is recommended that Barrett’s esophagus patients undergo an upper endoscopy with biopsy on a regular basis for the remainder of their lifetime. The frequency is dictated by the grade of cellar changes in the esophagus. Patients with high grade dysplasia may be referred for additional treatment.
Kona Community Hospital is at the forefront of treatment options for Barrett’s esophagus, offering Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) with Barrx technology. Barrx ablation technology uses heat energy delivered in a very precise and highly controlled manner. This heat energy removes diseased tissue without damage to the normal underlying structures. RFA is done in an outpatient setting with no incisions. Patients may experience some chest discomfort and difficulty swallowing for several days after the procedure. Follow up is done within 2-3 months to assess the response to treatment and determine any additional therapy is warranted.