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A Condition That’s Hard to Swallow

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 1 percent of all adults in the United States suffer from a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. Frequently associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Barrett’s esophagus is a fairly rare condition that may have serious health consequences.

As stated by the NIH, Barrett’s esophagus is a condition which affects the cells lining the esophagus. Over time, these cells change color and transform into cells similar to those found in the small intestine. Caused by acid reflux, Barrett’s esophagus is commonly diagnosed among frequent heartburn sufferers.

“Although Barrett’s esophagus is frequently associated with the pain and discomfort of heartburn or GERD, the condition itself has no signs or symptoms,” explains Rajeev Jain, M.D., gastroenterologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. “Given this lack of readily identifiable symptoms, cases of Barrett’s esophagus can be difficult to detect.”

When left undiagnosed, Barrett’s esophagus can potentially lead to a rare form of esophageal cancer, so prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential in any case.

For patients in the Dallas area diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, Texas Health Dallas now offers a revolutionary new option to treat the condition. Known as radiofrequency ablation, the procedure is performed by inserting a tube into the patient’s esophagus and applying heat to destroy the mutated cells. Unlike previous options for the treatment of Barrett’s esophagus, radiofrequency ablation can be performed with minimal effects for the patient.

“Traditional methods for the treatment of Barrett’s esophagus typically included surgical removal of a section of the esophagus, which required a prolonged recovery period,” Dr. Jain adds. “Using the minimally invasive ablation procedure, however, the effects on the patient are minimized, and the clinical results are typically very positive.”

To find a physician on the medical staff at Texas Health Dallas, visit or call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355).

(Summer 2011)