Barrett's esophagus is a precancerous condition that affects the lining of the esophagus, the tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disorder in which stomach acid and enzymes cause lesions in the lining of the esophagus, producing symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation and chest pain.. In some patients, the normal cells of the esophagus are damaged and over time this damage can result in inflammation and genetic changes that cause the cells to become altered. The tissue modifies its appearance and microscopically changes ("intestinal metaplasia" or Barrett's esophagus). If a patient has GERD symptoms more than 3 times a week, they should consult their doctor. It is estimated that 13% of patients with GERD also have Barrett's esophagus.
The diagnosis is established after performing a gastroscopy where biopsies are taken in the area of esophageal inflammation. The finding of intestinal cells in the esophagus (intestinal metaplasia) confirms the diagnosis of Barrett's esophagus. There are different grades of Barrett: intestinal metaplasia, low grade dysplasia, high grade dysplasia and esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Joint recommendations from medical societies indicate performing high-digestive endoscopies with biopsy to patients with Barrett's esophagus, regularly and for life. The frequency will be much higher in patients with dysplasia, due to the increased risk of developing cancer.
In addition to the endoscopic observation approaches for Barrett's esophagus, there are treatment options that include endoscopic and surgical therapy to completely eliminate Barrett's tissue.
Among the options for endoscopic treatment is radiofrequency ablation or HALO. This is a technique in which the tissue is heated until it is no longer viable or alive, by using a calorific energy that is applied in a precise and controlled manner. The HALO ablation technology is able to achieve complete removal of diseased tissue without causing damage to nearby normal structures.
The treatment is performed in conjunction with upper digestive endoscopy without the need for hospitalization and does not involve incisions. There are two types of ablation catheters: HALO 360º and HALO 90º.
The patient only spends a few hours in the hospital. After the procedure you may experience discomfort in the chest and difficulty swallowing for several days, with medication.