Barrets Esophagus: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Barrets Esophagus?

Barretts oesophagus is a condition in which the tissue lining the oesophagus the muscular tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach is replaced by tissue that is similar to the intestinal lining. This process is called intestinal metaplasia.
It is a chronic form of GERD. Another name sometimes used by doctors for Barretts oesophagus is columnar-lined oesophagus (CLO).

Recovery Time

Recovery depends on the type of medications used, diet and lifestyle of the individual usually it may take from few days to weeks. In some cases surgery may be recommended.


Diagnosing Barretts oesophagus involves a physical examination and medical history of the patient and tests may include:
  • Endoscopy
  • Endoscopic biopsy
  • Twenty-four hour ambulatory pH monitoring 

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  What is Barretts esophagus?
Esophagus is the swallowing tube that carries foods and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. Barretts esophagus is a change in the lining of the esophagus from a normal, white lining (known as squamous mucosa) to a pink/red lining (known as intestinal-type mucosa). This process is called intestinal metaplasia. It is a chronic form of GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease). Another name sometimes used by doctors for Barretts esophagus is columnar-lined esophagus (CLO).

Q2.  What shall one do if one is having barretts esophagus?
One shall maintain a healthy weight, eat smaller, more frequent meals (3 meals a day, with small snacks in between), avoid tightfitting clothes, eliminate heartburn trigger, avoid stooping or bending, wait at least three hours after eating to lie down or go to bed and the last meal of the day should be small.
Elevate the head of your bed by using blocks or foam wedges to reduce reflux while sleeping.
Do not smoke. Smoking may increase stomach acid.

Q3.  When shall one consult a physician?
When there is persistent heartburn, difficulty swallowing, pain when swallowing, nausea or vomiting or severe abdominal pain then one shall consult a physician immediately.

Q4.  What shall be done to prevent Barretts esophagus?
One shall make changes in their diet. Fatty foods, chocolate, caffeine, spicy foods, and peppermint can aggravate reflux. Avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and tobacco. Lose weight, being overweight increases your risk for reflux. Sleep with the head of the bed elevated. Sleeping with head raised may help prevent the acid in your stomach from flowing up into the oesophagus. Do not lie down for 3 hours after eating. Take all medicines with plenty of water. Diagnosis and treatment of GERD may prevent Barretts oesophagus.

Q5.  Is Barretts esophagus associated with an increased risk of cancer?
Yes. Patients who have Barretts esophagus are at increased risk to develop cancer of the esophagus. However, most people with Barretts esophagus do not get cancer. Once a pathologist finds Barretts esophagus, your doctor will probably increase the number of times s/he examines your esophagus and the number of biopsies s/he takes to look for cancer.

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