Barrett’s Esophagus and Halo Ablation
What is Barrett’s esophagus?
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which normal tissue lining of the esophagus (the eating tube that connects the mouth to the stomach) turns into tissue that is similar to the lining of the intestine. This change is called intestinal metaplasia. Barrett’s esophagus increases the risk for developing esophageal cancer.
What causes Barretts esophagus?
The exact causes of Barrett’s esophagus are not known. It is thought that damage to the lining of the esophagus from stomach acid and enzymes causes esophageal cells to change. Having chronic heartburn, regurgitation, GERD (GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease) or esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus) over time can cause the cells to become damaged. Although people who do not have GERD can have Barrett’s esophagus, this pre-cancerous Barrett’s condition is found more often in people who do have GERD and/or long-standing heartburn.
What is HALO Ablation?
Ablation therapy is performed during an upper endoscopy by the doctor using a HALO ablation catheter. Heat energy is delivered through the catheter in a precise manner to destroy the thin Barrett’s esophageal tissue until it is no longer viable or alive. More than one upper endoscopy and ablation may be needed, but studies have shown that in 98.4% of patients, Barrett’s tissue can be completely eliminated with HALO ablation.
What are the complications of HALO ablation treatments?
Along with a very slight chance of adhesion (sticking together) of the esophageal tissue after ablation treatment, the risks and complications of HALO radiofrequency ablation are similar to those of an upper endoscopy with sedation.
What will I feel from ablation treatment?
During the upper endoscopy you will be sedated and feel nothing. Many people have no discomfort after the ablation. Some people have slight chest discomfort or difficulty swallowing for a few days after the treatment. The doctor will prescribe medicine(s) to manage this discomfort. You will need to stay on your anti-acid medications to help heal the treated esophagus to replace the Barrett’s tissue with a normal healthy esophagus lining tissue.
A follow up upper endoscopy is scheduled within 2-3 months to assess the need for further ablation therapy. If any Barrett’s tissue remains, more ablation treatments are needed until no Barrett’s tissue is seen and biopsies are negative.
Complete removal of the Barrett’s esophagus tissue does not cure pre-existing symptoms, heartburn or GERD. Many people require long term anti-reflux medication and monitoring of their symptoms and conditions.