Barrett’s Esophagus: A Review of the Literature
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- Gilbert, E.W., Luna, R.A., Harrison, V.L. et al. J Gastrointest Surg (2011) 15: 708. doi:10.1007/s11605-011-1485-y
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Barrett’s esophagus (BE) is the premalignant lesion of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) defined as specialized intestinal metaplasia of the tubular esophagus that results from chronic gastroesophageal reflux. Which patients are at risk of having BE and which are at further risk of developing EAC has yet to be fully established. Many aspects of the management of BE have changed considerably in the past 5 years alone. The aim of this review is to define the critical elements necessary to effectively manage individuals with BE. The general prevalence of BE is estimated at 1.6–3% and follows a demographic distribution similar to EAC. Both short-segment (<3 cm) and long-segment (≥3 cm) BE confer a significant risk for EAC that is increased by the development of dysplasia. The treatment for flat high-grade dysplasia is endoscopic radiofrequency ablation therapy. The benefits of ablation for non-dysplastic BE and BE with low-grade dysplasia have yet to be validated. By understanding the intricacies of the development, screening, surveillance, and treatment of BE, new insights will be gained into the prevention and early detection of EAC that may ultimately lead to a reduction in morbidity and mortality in this patient population.