Jefferson University Hospitals

Barrett's Esophagus

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If you or a loved one is diagnosed with Barrett's esophagus, you will receive expert help at the Jefferson Barrett's Esophagus Treatment Center in Philadelphia. Our Center is one of only a few dedicated Barrett's centers in the country and the first multidisciplinary center solely dedicated to treating Barrett's esophagus in Philadelphia.

It is estimated that more than three million people in the United States have Barrett's esophagus, and that number is growing at an alarming rate. This condition is caused when digestive acid backs up from the stomach into the esophagus, causing damage and growth of precancerous cells. If it is left untreated, Barrett's esophagus can lead to esophageal cancer, an aggressive cancer that is typically fatal.

The Barrett's Esophagus Treatment Center's multidisciplinary patient care team includes specialists in gastroenterology, pathology and surgery to treat basic and complicated, precancerous cases (dysplastic Barrett's esophagus). Our physicians are supported by a registered dietitian who instructs patients on successfully maintaining a healthy diet that can mitigate the effects of reflux (heartburn) that causes their Barrett’s esophagus.

Our staff also includes nurses specially trained and highly experienced in caring for patients with Barrett’s esophagus alone or in conjunction with various co-morbidities.

For cases of esophageal cancer, we are joined by oncologists and radiation therapists of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson.

Risk Factor for Barrett's Esophagus

  • Obesity
  • Tobacco smokers
  • Being age 50 or older
  • Family history of esophageal or gastric cancer

Radiofrequency Ablation RFA

Jefferson is a leader in advanced endoscopic and surgical therapies for Barrett's esophagus. Our physicians pioneered radiofrequency ablation as a treatment of Barrett's esophagus in 2006. This treatment can completely reverse the damage to the esophagus tissue in 80 to 90 percent of cases, returning it to normal. On average, RFA requires four 30-minute outpatient procedures at intervals of two to three months. Side effects are minimal and you can return to work within days of each procedure.

Our gastroenterologists have performed more than 1300 of these procedures, making Jefferson the regional leader in RFA.

Advanced Testing and Monitoring

At Jefferson, we offer esophageal manometry to evaluate noncardiac chest pain, esophageal spasm, achalasia and other motility disorders.

Esophageal 24-hour pH monitoring is the gold standard of gastroesophageal reflux assessment for both medical and surgical management. We employ advanced pH monitoring technology, which includes the acid-sensing disposable BRAVO™ capsule. The capsule is endoscopically placed in the esophagus and transmits data to a pager-sized computer worn on the patient's belt. It offers comfort, convenience and improved accuracy over the catheter-based pH monitor inserted through the nose.

Esophageal impedance, which measures nonacid reflux, is available for patients who have normal results from the 24-hour pH probe; it assesses whether gas or liquids reflux into the esophagus.