Barrett's Esophagus | Diagnosis & Treatment

How is Barrett's esophagus diagnosed?

Clinicians typically use an endoscopy to diagnose Barrett's esophagus. In this test, a thin, flexible lighted tube with a tiny camera at the end is passed through your child's throat into the esophagus to look for signs of diseased tissue. The physician will likely also remove small bits of tissue (biopsy) from the esophagus to test for the presence of Barrett's esophagus and the extent of the change.

Based on these findings, the clinician will determine the degree of tissue change, rating it from no dysplasia (the presence of Barrett's esophagus without precancerous changes) to high-grade dysplasia (the final stage before Barrett's esophagus becomes esophageal cancer).

How is Barrett's esophagus treated?

The goal of treatment for Barrett's esophagus is to monitor tissue changes through regular endoscopies. Your child should also receive treatment for the root cause of inflammation, such as taking acid-blocking medication to address GERD.

Higher degrees of esophageal tissue change from Barrett's esophagus usually don't occur until adulthood. Depending on the degree of dysplasia, physicians may treat it with techniques such as:

  • Endoscopic resection (using an endoscope to remove damaged cells)
  • Radiofrequency ablation (using heat to remove abnormal tissue)
  • Cryotherapy (using extreme cold to remove abnormal tissue)
  • Surgery to remove the diseased portion of the esophagus

Even with treatment, Barrett's esophagus can recur, especially if the original source of chronic inflammation isn't addressed.