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Barrett’s Esophagus

Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division

GASTROENTEROLOGY PRACTICE LOCATED IN POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, FISHKILL, NY & HIGHLAND, NY

Between 10-20% of people who have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) develop Barrett’s esophagus, a complication that causes abnormal cell development in your esophagus. Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division, with offices in Fishkill, Poughkeepsie, and Highland, New York, offers expert diagnosis and treatment of Barrett’s esophagus to reduce your risk of even more dangerous complications such as cancer. If you have GERD and are concerned about Barrett’s esophagus, call the practice or schedule a consultation online today.

Barrett's Esophagus Q & A

What is Barrett’s esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus is a complication of GERD. It occurs when the repeated exposure to stomach acid causes abnormal cell changes in your esophagus. The cells become more like the cells that line your intestine. 

Barrett’s esophagus can also increase your chances of developing esophageal cancer. While the risk is low, the team at Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division provides routine screening to detect and treat precancerous cells before they lead to cancer. 

What are the signs of Barrett’s esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus doesn’t cause symptoms. However, you’re likely to have GERD symptoms, such as:

  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Problems swallowing
  • Vomiting blood
  • Black tar-like stools

Your chances of developing Barrett’s esophagus increase if you have a family history of the condition or a 10-year or longer history of heartburn. Your risk also increases with age and if you’re overweight or obese. 

How is Barrett’s esophagus diagnosed?

The team at Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division recommends routine screening for Barrett’s esophagus for anyone over the age of 40 who has GERD. They use an upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy to examine your esophagus and take biopsies. 

Your doctor provides a sedative during an upper GI endoscopy to keep you comfortable. They insert an endoscope into your throat to examine the inside of your esophagus. 

An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a lighted camera on its tip. It transmits images from inside your body to a monitor in the treatment room. 

After visually examining the cells in your esophagus, your doctor may take a biopsy for further testing to confirm your diagnosis. 

How is Barrett’s esophagus treated?

Treatment for Barrett’s esophagus depends on your specific needs. For example, if you have Barrett’s esophagus without precancerous cells, the team recommends watchful waiting. They suggest having an upper GI endoscopy and biopsies every two or three years. 

However, if you have Barrett’s esophagus with dysplasia (precancerous cells), your doctor might suggest a procedure to remove the abnormal cells. Depending on your condition, they might recommend radiofrequency ablation, cryotherapy, or endoscopic mucosal resection. In severe cases, you might need to have part or all of your esophagus removed. 

Call Northern Medical Group Gastroenterology Division today or make an appointment online if you have long-term GERD and concerns about Barrett’s esophagus.