Radiofrequency ablation of Barrett's oesophagus

Removal of abnormal cells from the base of your food pipe

Using heat to destroy abnormal cells that have grown where the tube from your mouth connects with your stomach

What is Barrett's oesophagus?

Barrett's oesophagus is the name given to the growth of abnormal cells in the lower part of the pipe that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. This section gets damaged by acid and bile travelling upwards from your stomach.

The most common symptoms are heart burn (acid reflux) and indigestion.

Radio-frequency ablation (RFA) works by using heat to destroy (ablate) any cells that are growing abnormally as a result of stomach acid damage. In limited cases these cells can become cancerous, but this usually takes many years or even decades to develop.

Need to know

  • What happens during treatment? icon plus

    The procedure is carried out under deep sedation or general anaesthetic. Once you are asleep, after careful inspection of your food pipe, a special device called an ablation catheter is passed down into the pipe and the abnormal cells are very carefully burned away.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you might have. In order to prepare you may be asked to: - Provide your consultant with detailed information on your medical history.

    This can include previous surgeries, other conditions you might have and medication you are taking - Follow advice on food and drink intake prior to the procedure.
  • After your ablation icon plus

    The risk of complications following radiofrequency ablation is low, but the procedure may cause bleeding or infection.

    Side effects can include:

    • pain or discomfort
    • slight fever
    • generally feeling unwell.

    Sometimes you may need to spend a night in the hospital before you are allowed to return home.

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