Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which the normal tissue lining the lower part of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach) is replaced with abnormal tissue. It is a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which stomach acid and other contents flow back into the esophagus.
The abnormal tissue in Barrett’s esophagus is believed to be a response to the irritation and damage caused by repeated exposure to stomach acid. In some cases, this abnormal tissue can develop into a type of pre-cancerous condition called dysplasia.
Symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus can include heartburn, difficulty swallowing, and chest pain. The condition is usually diagnosed through endoscopy, a procedure in which a lighted scope is used to examine the esophagus and stomach. Treatment for Barrett’s esophagus typically involves medications to control GERD and prevent further irritation to the esophagus, as well as periodic endoscopic surveillance to monitor for the development of dysplasia. In some cases, treatment may involve removal of the abnormal tissue.