Barrett's oesophagus

Irritated gullet (food pipe). If you're experiencing heartburn and indigestion as a result of Barrett's oesophagus, we can treat it

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What is Barrett's oesophagus?

The oesophagus (gullet) is a food pipe that connects your mouth to your stomach. Sometimes, acid reflux can irritate the oesophagus, causing the cells in it to grow abnormally. This can lead to heartburn and indigestion, and when this happens, it's called Barrett's oesophagus. Barrett's oesophagus is not a type of cancer, however it can sometimes develop into it.

Need to know

Barrett's oesophagus is caused by prolonged acid reflux (when acid or bile in your stomach juices shoots up into your oesophagus). The most common symptoms of Barrett's oesophagus are:

  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • back pain.

You may not, however, experience any symptoms.

Five percent of people with Barrett's oesophagus go on to develop oesophageal cancer, so it's important to get it checked out by an expert

Your GP or consultant gastroenterologist will discuss your symptoms with you. They may carry out tests at a later date to make a diagnosis.

This might include a gastrocopy, which involves examining your oesophagus using an endoscope (telescope). Your consultant may recommend having a gastrocopy every two years to monitor your symptoms.

They may also wish to take a small sample of cells (a biopsy) from your oesophagus to test it for pre-cancerous signs.

If you've been diagnosed with Barrett's oesophagus, the main aim is to reduce your acid reflux. So your consultant may ask you to avoid certain foods and drinks, like chocolate, coffee and alcohol. They may also prescribe acid-reducing medicine, such as proton pump inhibitors. If your symptoms are severe, your consultant may recommend anti-reflux surgery.

Alternatively, they may also recommend an innovative treatment called the BarrX 'Halo' method, sometimes called radiofrequency ablation. This innovative treatment can destroy abnormal cells and encourage the growth of normal oesophageal lining.

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.