by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
The esophagus is a tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Barrett esophagus is a condition that results in a change in the cells in the lower part of this tube.
The exact cause is not known. In some people, it may be caused by a backup of stomach acid into the tube. This is also known gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
This problem is more common in men, people who are White, and people aged 50 and older. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Barrett esophagus does not cause symptoms. People with it often have symptoms of stomach acid reflux, such as:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may want to test for Barrett esophagus if you have a history of heartburn or GERD.
The area will need to be viewed. This can be done with:
The cells that have already been damaged cannot be changed. The goal of treatment is to stop the disease from damaging more cells. Choices are:
To lower the risk of this health problem:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons
GI Society—Canadian Society of Intestinal Research
Barrett esophagus. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/barrett-esophagus. Accessed November 24, 2020.
Barrett's esophagus. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/barretts-esophagus. Accessed November 24, 2020.
Shaheen NJ, Falk GW, et al. ACG Clinical Guideline: Diagnosis and Management of Barrett's Esophagus. Am J Gastroenterol. 2016 Jan;111(1):30-50.
11/30/2015 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/condition/barrett-esophagus: Shaheen NJ, Falk GW, et al. ACG clinical guideline: diagnosis and management of Barrett's esophagus. Am J Gastroenterol. 2016;111(1):30-50.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 4/20/2021