Millennial woman with primary care doctor

Providing the Right Level of Care for Barrett’s Esophagus

Barrett’s esophagus is a condition closely related to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It affects about 1 in 10 patients with chronic acid reflux. When the lower part of the esophagus just outside the stomach is regularly exposed to acid reflux, the cells in that area can change. Eventually, they may look like the goblet cells that are found in the small intestine. While Barrett’s esophagus is a non-cancerous disease, patients who have it are at a significantly higher risk for esophageal cancer. Even though most patients with Barrett’s esophagus will not develop esophageal cancer, Barrett’s is considered a precancerous condition.

The gastroenterologists and surgeons at the Digestive Health Institute’s Mickle Center for Reflux and Esophageal Conditions see many patients with Barrett’s esophagus. Because of the high volume of Barrett’s patients they see, our doctors know how to provide the right level of care for this disease. Some patients find that their Barrett’s esophagus improves when they get their reflux symptoms under control. Others require an endoscopic procedure or, more rarely, surgery to remove the diseased cells from their esophagus. However mild or severe your Barrett’s esophagus is, at DHI’s Mickle Center, you will find the care you need to gain relief from acid reflux symptoms and reduce your esophageal cancer risk.

What Are the Symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus?

By itself, Barrett’s esophagus does not cause symptoms. However, because it is commonly caused by chronic acid reflux, patients with Barrett’s esophagus tend to have symptoms of GERD.

GERD symptoms include:

  • Frequent heartburn or chest pain, experienced as a burning pain in the lower part of the middle of the chest and in the mid-abdomen
  • Regurgitation
  • Dry cough
  • Asthma symptoms
  • Hoarseness
  • A bitter taste in the mouth or back of the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing

How Is Barrett’s Esophagus Diagnosed?

Certain patients with GERD should be screened for Barrett’s esophagus. Screening is done with an upper endoscopy, where a light and camera are placed on an endoscope down into the esophagus. The endoscope will also remove cells from the esophagus for biopsy. Looking at the genetic makeup of these cells under a microscope can confirm a diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus.

Screening is usually for patients who have at least two risk factors for Barrett’s esophagus, which include:

  • A history of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Being overweight
  • Having a hiatal hernia
  • Being male
  • Being age 50 or older

Esophageal Cancer Screening

If you are diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, there is a chance that the changed cells in your esophagus could become cancer. Your gastroenterologist may recommend that you have routine screenings for esophageal cancer. These will be done with the same endoscopic procedure used to diagnose Barrett’s esophagus. If you develop esophageal cancer, regular screenings will help ensure that it is caught at an early stage, and will likely make cancer treatment easier and more effective.

What Is the Treatment for Barrett’s Esophagus?

The first step in treating Barrett’s esophagus is to get your acid reflux symptoms under control. The Mickle Center’s doctors focus on treating GERD. Oftentimes, patients find relief from a minimally invasive surgery performed at DHI that cures GERD symptoms. In turn, this lowers their risk for esophageal cancer. For more information on permanent treatments for GERD, see our web page on GERD & Acid Reflux Treatment.

If Barrett’s esophagus is in more advanced stages, treatment for the diseased esophageal lining may be needed.

At DHI, direct treatment for Barrett’s esophagus is usually done in one of three ways:

Thermal Ablation for Barrett’s Esophagus

Thermal ablation is a non-invasive procedure. It involves using an endoscope to directly apply heat generated by radio frequency ablation (RFA) to the diseased area. The heat burns off the Barrett’s cells in the lining of the esophagus.

No incision is required since the physician accesses the area through the esophagus itself. After thermal ablation, patients will need to undergo an anti-reflux operation to prevent the recurrence or progression of Barrett's esophagus.

Benefits of thermal ablation include:

  • A shorter recovery time compared to other treatment techniques for Barrett’s esophagus
  • No surgical incisions because the doctor uses an endoscope that is inserted through the mouth and down into the affected area of the esophagus
  • No need for hospitalization because thermal ablation is an outpatient procedure

Endoscopic Mucosal Resection (EMR) for Barrett’s Esophagus

EMR is another endoscopic procedure used to treat Barrett’s esophagus. Through the endoscope, the doctor is able to use instruments that cut away the diseased lining of the esophagus. Unlike thermal ablation which does not involve incisions, with EMR the doctor has to make internal incisions to cut out tissue. However, this treatment does not involve external incisions, which means recovery time is relatively short. As with thermal ablation, to prevent the recurrence or progression of Barrett's esophagus, patients will require an anti-reflux operation after EMR.

Robotic Transhiatal Esophagectomy

In some cases, when Barrett’s esophagus progresses to esophageal cancer, treatment by removing part of the esophagus may be in order. While esophagectomy is a major operation, Mickle Center surgeons Dr. Sharona Ross and Dr. Alexander Rosemurgy are experienced in offering it in minimally invasive ways. Minimally invasive esophagectomy, or robotic transhiatal esophagectomy, results in smaller external scars and faster recoveries.

Do you have Barrett’s esophagus or GERD? If you would like care from a comprehensive team specializing in esophageal disorders, call DHI’s Mickle Center at Call813-615-7557.


Mickle Center for Reflux and Esophageal Disorders

7 items. To interact with these items, press Control-Option-Shift-Right Arrow
  • Esophageal Cancer

    Typically esophageal cancer requires surgery in addition to radiation and chemotherapy. Learn more about the surgical treatments our specialists can provide.

  • Achalasia

    The experienced surgeons at Digestive Health Institute, Tampa offer effective and permanent treatment for achalasia. Learn more about these treatment options.

  • Acid Reflux/GERD

    AdventHealth Digestive Health Institute Tampa is a regional top provider of care for acid reflux: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and laryngopharyngeal reflux. 

  • Barrett's Esophagus

    The gastroenterologists and surgeons at AdventHealth Digestive Health Institute Tampa provide leading-edge treatment for Barrett’s esophagus. Learn more today.

  • Swallowing Disorders

    Our board-certified speech pathologist can assist patients with swallowing disorders and voice issues.

  • Esophageal Surgery

    At AdventHealth Digestive Health Institute Tampa, we offer minimally invasive, robotic esophageal surgery as a cancer treatment option.

  • Upper Endoscopy / Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)

    An upper endoscopy helps doctors look at the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine and can help diagnose a range of conditions.

A person's hands holding equipment
Faster Recoveries. Better Outcomes.

Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery

All the surgeons at the Digestive Health Institute (DHI) at AdventHealth Tampa have a large depth of experience in offering minimally invasive surgery. 

Meet The Experts

6 items. To interact with these items, press Control-Option-Shift-Right Arrow. These items are in a slider. To advance slider forward, press Shift-Command-Right Arrow. To advance slider backward, press Shift-Command-Left Arrow.

Alexander Rosemurgy

MD, FACS

Advanced Foregut & HPB Surgeon

Sharona Ross

MD, FACS

Advanced Foregut & HPB Surgeon

Sandra G. Freeman

ARNP-C

Nurse Practitioner

Dana Manzi

MSN, ARNP-BC

Nurse Practitioner

Cory O'Brien

MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

Speech Pathologist

Betsy Prator

MSN, ARNP-BC

Nurse Practitioner

Dr. Cory O'Brien checking patient's throat at AdventHealth Digestive Health Institute Tampa.

Surgical Consultations For Digestive Cancer Without The Wait

Appointments Within 5 Days for Patients with Cancer

At AdventHealth Digestive Institute Tampa, we know that after being diagnosed with cancer, patients want and often need to begin treatment quickly. So we make it a priority to offer appointments for cancer surgery consultations within 5 business days, and often earlier. 

Patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer, or have just found out they have cancer recurrence, qualify for this priority access. Our surgeons will make themselves available to see you right away, even for a second opinion. We want to help you start your treatment as soon as possible.

If you have been diagnosed with a cancer of the digestive system, don’t wait. 
Call the Digestive Health Institute at Call813-615-7557.

DHI News and Info

3 items. To interact with these items, press Control-Option-Shift-Right Arrow. These items are in a slider. To advance slider forward, press Shift-Command-Right Arrow. To advance slider backward, press Shift-Command-Left Arrow.
Blog

Digestive Institute Surgeon at the Society of Surgical Oncology Meeting

At the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) virtual meeting, Iswanto Sucandy, MD, FACS, presented about his experience with robotic surgery for major liver operations.
News

Dr. Sharona Ross named Patient Preferred Surgeon by the Patient Preferred Physicians and Practitioners

Congratulations to Dr. Sharona Ross, who was named a Patient Preferred Surgeon for her dedication and excellence in patient care by the Patient Preferred Physicians and Practitioners.
Blog

Digestive Institute Tampa Offers a Truly Personalized Approach to Hemorrhoid Care

Almost 3 out of every 4 of us will have to deal with hemorrhoids at least once in our lives.