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Definition of Barrett's esophagus

Barrett's esophagus: A complication of severe chronic GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease) involving changes in the cells of the tissue that line the bottom of the esophagus. These esophageal cells become irritated when the contents of the stomach back up (refluxes) and there is a small but definite increased risk of adenocarcinoma (cancer) of the esophagus. The diagnosis of Barrett's esophagus rests upon seeing (through endoscopy) a pink esophageal lining (mucosa) that extends a short distance (usually less than 2.5 inches) up the esophagus from the gastroesophageal junction and finding intestinal type cells (goblet cells) on biopsy of the lining. Treatment is, in general, essentially the same as for GERD both medically (with acid-suppression drugs) and surgically (with fundoplication).

Named after Norman Rupert Barrett (1903-1979), an eminent thoracic surgeon born in Australia who studied medicine and practiced in Britain.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=31353
Last Editorial Review: 9/20/2012

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