Quintessence of Barrett’s Esophagus

What is Barrett’s esophagus?

The esophagus, also known as the food pipe is a muscular tube like structure that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. This tube is typically lined inside by squamous epithelial cells which help in the transportation procedure.Barrett's esophagus Barrett’s esophagus is a rare disorder when these epithelial cells towards the posterior end of the lining the tube are replaced with goblet cells as found typically in the intestine. This unusual change in the nature of the lining cells is termed as metaplasia.  This disease is usually linked with people beyond the age of fifty five, mostly men and is not common in children. People with Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD) are at a high risk of contracting the disease. This condition is of extreme medical significance as it is known to be associated with and is often considered as a pre malignant condition for esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is a very lethal form of cancer. The disease gets its name from Norman Barrett who had described the condition for the first time in 1950.

How is the disease diagnosed?

Early medical attention to the symptoms of the disease can help the quick detection of the disease. The disease can be diagnosed using a upper Gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy followed by a biopsy. During the endoscopy, a sample of the tissue is extracted from the inner lining of the esophagus of the patient and is checked and examined by as gastroenterologist and then by a pathologist to confirm the condition. The endoscopy is not a fool proof method to determine the disorder for sure. It is because of the partial nature of the condition as not the entire lining of the tract is changed. Only certain areas are affected and the samples extracted from the endoscopy might miss the affected areas as the changed cells cannot be detected under the endoscopy camera and can be differentiated only under a microscope.

Cure for the disease

Treatment and cure for Barrett’s Esophagus takes place in multiple stages. The most common medications that are given to patients with the condition are proton pump inhibiters which are acid regulators. These medications not just help the condition from worsening but also help heal Barrett’s esophagus. Endoscopic ablative therapies involving treatment using photodynamic therapy which uses porfimer, a light activated chemical with laser light in an endoscope to destroy precancerous cells in the esophagus. Another method in these types of therapies is radiofrequency ablation which involves the use of radio waves to kill the precancerous cells. Other method includes Endoscopic mucosal resection with the injection of a solution under the Barrett’s lining. The final method is the invasive surgery where the affected sections are removed.

 heal Barrett’s esophagus

Dietary information

 

People are advised to have a regular intake of food like fruits and vegetables which are good sources of healing nutrients like vitamins and minerals which can help in reducing the risk of the disease. Also keeping a check on the body weight can help reduce the risk. People with GER and GERD are advised to undergo an endoscopy as a measure to detect the possible chances of the disease in its early stage.

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