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Barrett’s Esophagus Treatment in Wichita, KS

What is Barrett’s Esophagus?

Barrett’s Esophagus, also called BE, is a complication of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) that causes the lining of the esophagus to become more like intestinal tissue. Symptoms are different in every patient who has Barrett’s, but they can appear as heartburn, the sensation of indigestion, regurgitation, or other experiences related to GERD. However, some people don’t see any symptoms, or they are infrequent.  If you suspect that you may be experiencing symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus, schedule an appointment at our gastroenterology office in Wichita, KS today!

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Diagnosing Barrett’s Esophagus

To diagnose Barrett’s Esophagus, you must see a gastroenterologist for a diagnostic endoscopy of the esophagus. If the gastroenterologist sees red, “fuzzy” looking tissue, you will likely require a biopsy to test for Barrett’s Esophagus as normal esophageal tissue appears more pale and smooth.

One of our providers will determine how far the tissue has changed, because if the tissue is very different, you may be more at risk for esophageal cancer. Generally, this is ranked by the level of dysplasia, also known as inflammation or abnormal cell growth. In Barrett’s Esophagus, it is ranked as follows:

  • No dysplasia: Barrett’s Esophagus is present, but no cancerous cell growth
  • Low-grade dysplasia: Cells show precancerous development
  • High-grade dysplasia: Cells likely will become cancerous

Treating Barrett’s Esophagus at KU Wichita Gastroenterology

We use Gastroesophageal Radiofrequency Ablation with the Medtronic Barrx™ system to remove the epithelium in a brief endoscopic procedure.

Radiofrequency Ablation is a minimally invasive procedure, in which either a flexible balloon catheter or small focal catheter is inserted into the esophagus, and radiofrequency is applied to the cells, destroying abnormalities. Since the procedure doesn’t involve any incisions, chance of complication is low.

What is Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) Therapy?

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) therapy has been shown to be safe and effective for treating Barrett’s esophagus. Radiofrequency energy (radio waves) is delivered via a catheter to the esophagus to remove diseased tissue while minimizing injury to healthy esophagus tissue. This is called ablation, which means the removal or destruction of abnormal tissue.

What Happens During the Procedure?

While you are sedated, a device is inserted through the mouth into the esophagus and used to deliver a controlled level of energy and power to remove a thin layer of diseased tissue. Less than one second of energy removes tissue to a depth of about one millimeter. The ability to provide a controlled amount of heat to diseased tissue is one mechanism by which this therapy has a lower rate of complications than other forms of ablation therapy.

Larger areas of Barrett’s tissue are treated with the balloon-mounted catheter. Smaller areas are treated with the endoscope-mounted catheter. Both are introduced during an upper endoscopy procedure, which is a thin, flexible tube inserted through a patient’s mouth.

How Effective is Radiofrequency Ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation for Barrett’s esophagus has been used in more than 60,000 cases and the devices are cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The balloon-based catheter has been available commercially since January 2005, the endoscope-mounted catheter since January 2007.

A clinical trial by Fleischer, et al. showed that 98.4% of people were free of Barrett’s at a follow-up exam 30 months8 after two or three RFA treatments. Studies show that when the Barrett’s tissue is removed, it is typically replaced by normal, healthy tissue within three to four weeks. Recent five year follow-up of longer term trials shows that the effects of radiofrequency ablation are durable.


Barrx Treatment for GERD and Barrett’s Esophagus

If you’ve been diagnosed with GERD or Barrett’s Esophagus, schedule an appointment with KU-Wichita Gastroenterology for treatment.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is intended only to provide general information and not as a definitive basis for diagnosis or treatment in any particular case. It is very important that you consult your doctor about your specific condition, contraindications, and possible complications. This treatment is contraindicated in patients who are pregnant, have had prior radiation therapy to the esophagus, esophageal varices at risk for bleeding, or prior Heller myotomy. Possible complications may include: mucosal laceration, perforation of the esophagus requiring surgery, infection, bleeding, and stricture formation requiring dilation. The overall complication rate reported for this procedure is approximately .02%.


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