Barrett's Esophagus (cont.)
Bhupinder Anand, MD
Wilfred M. Weinstein, MD
In this Article
What experimental options are there for Barrett's esophagus WITHOUT dysplasia?
In an ideal world, all Barrett's esophagus, with or without dysplasia, would be ablated for life. Thereby, both Barrett's and its attendant risk of cancer would be eliminated. Experimental ablation (as described above for dysplasia) is being evaluated in Barrett's without dysplasia. However, long-term studies are needed to prove the durability of the ablation (for example, with antireflux surgery or acid-suppressing drugs).
Barrett's mucosa without dysplasia can be destroyed by using argon plasma coagulation and multipolar electrocoagulation techniques. (As already mentioned, the more powerful PDT has been used most commonly for high grade dysplasia and cancer.) To prevent recurrence of Barrett's after ablation, however, requires the elimination of reflux for life, either with high dose acid suppressing drugs or anti-reflux surgery (fundoplication).
After an ablation procedure, the normal squamous lining in the esophagus grows back. Sometimes, however, after ablation therapy, the residual Barrett's mucosa remains under the new lining. The outcome and importance of this subterranean Barrett's is not known. It should be stressed that ablation therapy is experimental and should be restricted to formal studies.
What does the future hold for Barrett's esophagus?
Most of the future developments in the field of Barrett's esophagus will depend on the results of research studies. The goals of such studies would be to:
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