Barrett's Esophagus Treatments

Barrett's esophagus will not go away on its own. It must be treated through endoscopic treatments or surgery. The goal of these procedures is to remove the Barrett cells and any dysplasia and cancer cells, encouraging normal esophageal tissue to grow back as the area heals.

There are several endoscopic therapies available for the treatment of severe dysplasia and cancer, including:

  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT): PDT uses a light-sensitizing agent (Photofrin) and a laser to kill abnormal cells. Photofrin is injected into a vein and the patient returns 48 hours later. An endoscope is then inserted into the esophagus and the laser light activates the Photofrin, which then destroys the Barrett tissue.
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR): EMR is a procedure in which the Barrett lining is lifted, and a solution is injected underneath it. The lining is then removed through the use of an endoscope. If an EMR is used to treat cancer, an endoscopic ultrasound is used to determine whether the cancer involves only the top layer of cells.

Surgical options may be considered if cancer has been diagnosed or the dysplasia is severe.

  • Esophagectomy: The most common surgical procedure for Barrett's esophagus, an esophagectomy involves the removal of most of the esophagus, pulling a portion of the stomach up into the chest, and attaching it to the remaining esophagus.