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Barrett’s Esophagus Specialist

Hattiesburg GI Associates PLLC

Board Certified Gastroenterologists located in Hattiesburg, MS

If you have Barrett’s esophagus, you’re more likely to develop esophageal cancer. Fortunately, regular check-ups and preventive screening measures can detect precancerous cells early on, significantly lowering your risk. At Hattiesburg GI Associates PLLC, with two convenient locations in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the team of board-certified gastroenterologists has extensive experience diagnosing and treating Barrett’s esophagus. To schedule an appointment, call the office nearest you or book a consultation online today.

Barrett’s Esophagus Q & A

What is Barrett’s esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus is a digestive condition that causes the lining of your esophagus to thicken and turn red. That occurs due to damage from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 

Between your esophagus and stomach is a small valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). If your LES fails to close, stomach acid can enter your esophagus and cause chemical damage.

What are the symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus usually occurs due to GERD or acid reflux. Common symptoms of GERD include frequent heartburn, difficulty swallowing food, and chest pain. But, not everyone with Barrett’s esophagus experiences symptoms of acid reflux. 

The team at Hattiesburg GI Associates PLLC can determine your risk based on a review of your health history, diet, and lifestyle choices.

When should I visit a doctor about Barrett’s esophagus?

If you experience heartburn on a regular basis, or you regularly belch and regurgitate stomach contents, it’s important to meet with a doctor about your digestive health. This is particularly true if your symptoms persist for five years or longer.

Schedule an appointment at Hattiesburg GI Associates PLLC immediately if you:

  • Have difficulty swallowing
  • Experience chest pain
  • Vomit blood, especially if it looks like coffee grounds
  • Pass black or tarry stools

You should also see a doctor about Barrett’s esophagus if you lose a significant amount of weight unintentionally.

How is Barrett’s esophagus diagnosed?

To diagnose Barrett’s esophagus, your provider at Hattiesburg GI Associates PLLC performs an upper endoscopy. An upper endoscopy uses a skinny tube with a lighted camera on the end, called an endoscope, to check for signs of changing esophagus tissue.

Prior to an upper endoscopy, you undergo anesthesia. Once you’re asleep, your provider inserts an endoscope into your mouth and down your esophagus. They use the camera to see if your esophagus looks red and velvety. If necessary, they might also take a small tissue sample, called a biopsy.

A pathologist looks at the tissue sample under a microscope to determine the degree of dysplasia in your esophagus.

  • No dysplasia means you have Barrett’s esophagus, but no cancerous cells are present
  • Low-dysplasia means your cells show early signs of precancerous changes
  • High-grade dysplasia means the majority of your cells are precancerous

Your provider might also use the Medtronic Bravo™ reflux testing system to make a diagnosis. This unique system allows them to evaluate the frequency and duration of acid reflux over the course of a 96-hour monitoring period.

How is Barrett’s esophagus treated?

Treatment for Barrett’s esophagus depends on your level of dysplasia and your overall health. If you have no dysplasia, your provider might recommend treatment for GERD or periodic upper endoscopy to monitor the health of your esophagus.

If you have low-dysplasia, they might recommend treatments to address your precancerous cells, such as cryotherapy, radiofrequency ablation, or endoscopic resection. Endoscopic resection uses an endoscope to remove precancerous cells from your esophagus.

For patients with high-grade dysplasia, surgical intervention may be necessary. Surgery for Barrett’s esophagus involves your provider removing the damaged part of your esophagus and reattaching the healthy portion to your stomach.

If you’re living with GERD, don’t wait to undergo screening for Barrett’s esophagus. Schedule an appointment at Hattiesburg GI Associates PLLC today; call the office or book online today.