Esophageal Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment was developed at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston in 2005 to treat Barrett’s Esophagus; a premalignant condition that untreated can progress to a cancerous condition in the lining of the esophagus. The treatment has been very successful in treating Barrett’s and eliminating the likelihood of progress toward a malignancy.
Barrett’s develops as a result of Acid Reflux in the stomach. The stomach acid causes the cells in the lining of the esophagus to be replaced by cells that resemble cells in the lining of the intestine.
The Acid Reflux is caused by a Hiatal Hernia, and although uncomfortable and sometimes painful, does not normally result in Barrett’s developing in the esophagus. However, for the unfortunate few, this ablation treatment has been very successful (Ablation is the surgical removal of body tissue).
The Radio Frequency Ablation treatment is an outpatient procedure performed by gastroenterologists and requires an anesthesiologist to provide deep sedation or general anesthesia. The process takes 25 to 35 minutes and results in the ablation of the damaged tissue. The patient can return to work the next day but a restricted diet for 3 days is advised. In addition, Barrett’s patients are treated with high dosage antacids to keep the acid level low to promote the return of normal tissue in the esophagus.
Barrett’s patients have a follow-up endoscopy in 2 or 3 months following the procedure to ensure the patient is healing properly. Patients are monitored every 6 months, with increasing intervals, to guard against a return of the condition.
The procedure is painless for most patients, with approximately 20% reporting mild chest pains following the operation. About 5% suffer a narrowing of the esophagus and require one or more procedures to stretch and treat the strictures. In essence, the procedure is safe and well tolerated. If you suffer from acid reflux, ask your doctor if you should have an endoscopy to determine the health and condition of your esophagus lining.