Barrett's Esophagus Disease

What is Barrett’s Esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus is more commonly seen in people who have frequent, persistent heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD symptoms include heartburn (burning under your breast bone) that may wake you up at night, occur after meals or in between, and may temporarily improve with antacids. Acid regurgitation, or the experience of sour or bitter-tasting fluid coming back up into your mouth, is also a GERD symptom. Some people do not have any of these symptoms and are still at risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus.


Endoscopy is the test of choice for Barrett’s esophagus. During endoscopy, a thin tube with a light and camera on the end are run through your mouth, down your throat and into your stomach. Biopsies, meaning small pieces of tissue can be collected to look at under the microscope. In Barrett’s, tissue is the issue. Tissue, showing a certain abnormal cell type, is necessary to make the diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus, and is one of the keys to management of Barrett’s.

An upper GI barium study can be helpful in finding strictures (areas of narrowing), usually causing trouble swallowing. Barium studies are not useful for diagnosing Barrett’s esophagus, because it is a diagnosis that requires biopsies of the tissues to make.


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