Barrett’s Esophagus Treatment in Northern New Jersey

Gastroenterologist examines images of Barrett’s esophagusWhile many patients experience acid reflux, some develop Barrett’s esophagus. This condition describes specific kinds of damage to the tissue that lines the esophagus and increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer. Gastroenterologists can diagnose this condition and help patients experiencing discomfort. In northern New Jersey, patients can seek expert medical care for the diagnosis and treatment of Barrett’s esophagus from board-certified gastroenterology specialists at Bergen Medical Associates.

What Is Barrett’s Esophagus?

The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects the mouth and throat with the stomach. And the stomach produces the acid and chemicals that digest food. When the sphincter, or valve, located near the stomach fails, these digestive acids, chemicals, and stomach contents may rise into the esophagus. This may damage the tissue of the esophagus, causing it to resemble intestinal tissue. Over time, other changes may occur.

What Are the Symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus?

When patients experience continual symptoms of acid reflux, they should seek medical care with the qualified gastroenterology practitioners at Bergen Medical Associates. The symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus are similar to Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and include:

  • Heartburn
  • Sore throat
  • Regurgitation
  • Feeling that food is stuck in the throat
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomit that produces blood
  • Black stools or stools resembling tar or containing blood
  • Unintentional weight loss

Patients who develop GERD when young, or who experience its symptoms for long periods, are considered to be most at risk for developing Barrett’s esophagus.

What Causes Barrett’s Esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus most likely is caused by chronic acid reflux associated with GERD. However, only 10% of patients who experience acid reflux develop Barrett’s esophagus. And of the patients diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, less than 1% develop esophageal cancer called adenocarcinoma. Lifestyle factors, such as smoking or obesity, also may be factors.

How Is Barrett’s Esophagus Diagnosed?

Gastroenterologists examine the tissue of the esophagus through upper endoscopy, a procedure that provides images of the area. A biopsy also may be used to determine whether Barrett’s esophagus is present. Physicians use a thin, flexible tube to examine the lining of the esophagus and stomach. A small camera attached to the tube provides images. If necessary, a small sample, or biopsy, of the tissue is taken for examination in the laboratory by a qualified pathologist. Screening for Barrett’s esophagus is recommended for patients who experience chronic acid reflux symptoms.

What Are the Treatment Options for Barrett’s Esophagus?

The treatment for Barrett’s esophagus depends on specific results found during the examination. If the tissue cells are normal, regular screenings for monitoring the condition may be recommended. In addition, lifestyle changes, medications, and dietary restrictions may alleviate discomfort.

If abnormal cells are identified through biopsy and pathology, the patient may be considered to have a precancerous condition. If the condition is considered low-risk, gastroenterologists may continue to recommend a schedule of endoscopic monitoring.

When high-risk abnormal cells are identified, gastroenterologists may recommend the following:

  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Thermal ablation
  • Cryotherapy
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Surgical resection

Find Expert Gastrointestinal Care at Bergen Medical Associates

Bergen Medical Associates has served patients in northern New Jersey for over 25 years. The gastroenterology practitioners are experienced specialists and offer a full range of diagnostic tools and treatment options for all gastrointestinal diseases and disorders.

If patients are experiencing symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, or heartburn, it is best to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist. Regular screenings and checkups are recommended for most adults. Bergen Medical Associates specializes in acid reflux, Barrett’s esophagus, inflammatory bowel disease, and colorectal cancer prevention.

Early diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus provides patients with more treatment options. Treatment is available and further damage to the esophagus may be prevented. Contact Bergen Medical Associates today to set up an appointment with a gastroenterologist.