Barrett's esophagus

In Barrett's esophagus, also called Barrett's syndrome, the cells that line the inside of the esophagus are replaced by cells like those that line the inside of the stomach. This change in the type of cell may occur with long-term exposure of the esophagus to stomach juices, such as from chronic gastroesophageal reflux.

The new cells are more resistant to stomach acid, but inflammation, sores (ulcers), and bleeding can still occur in that part of the esophagus.

There is no specific treatment for Barrett's esophagus. Having Barrett's esophagus slightly raises the risk for developing esophageal cancer. If Barrett's esophagus is suspected, a health professional may want to test the lining of the esophagus periodically to check for cells that may develop into cancer. These tests may include endoscopy and doing a biopsy of any cells that do not look normal.

Last Updated: March 31, 2008

Author: Monica Rhodes

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology

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