Barrett’s Esophagus

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Specialists at Houston Methodist Lynda K. and David M. Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders treat Barrett’s esophagus using a collaborative, team-based approach to specialized medical treatment.


Barrett’s esophagus is a condition where the esophageal lining is damaged by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Our nationally and internationally recognized specialists at the Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders offer personalized treatment options. Houston Methodist Hospital is ranked No. 5 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery. U.S. News & World Report has also named Houston Methodist Hospital the No. 1 hospital in Texas every year since the award began and one of the nation’s best as a nationally ranked Honor Roll hospital.


If you’ve been suffering with heartburn and antacids aren’t relieving your symptoms, you might have Barrett’s esophagus. Meet with your doctor, who will examine the lining of your esophagus to see if it is thickening and transitioning from healthy whitish pink to inflamed red.


Barrett’s esophagus is characterized by more than acid reflux. Because only half of people with Barrett's esophagus report any symptoms of GERD, you should see your doctor with any discomfort of the chest, swallowing mechanisms or digestion in general.

Risk Factors of Barrett's Esophagus

Having one or more of the following factors increases the likelihood of having Barrett's esophagus:

  • Age (more common in adults older than 50)
  • Being male
  • Being overweight
  • Being white
  • Chronic heartburn and acid reflux
  • Current or past smoking
  • Family history

Barrett’s Esophagus Symptoms & Treatment

What are the signs & symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus?

Experiencing the following repeatedly may indicate Barrett's esophagus:

  • Difficulty swallowing food
  • Frequent heartburn and regurgitation of stomach contents


See your doctor if you have any of the above symptoms.


If you are currently experiencing any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Chest pain, which could indicate a heart attack
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Passing black or bloody stools
  • Unintentionally losing weight
  • Vomiting red blood or blood that looks dark and grainy


How is Barrett’s esophagus treated?

Treatment for Barrett's esophagus depends on the presence of precancerous cells in the esophagus (dysplasia). Your gastroenterologist will assess the degree of abnormal tissue that may signify a stage preceding cancer and assign no dysplasia or low-grade or high-grade dysplasia. 


With this information, your doctor will develop an individualized treatment program, which can include medication, lifestyle changes, surgery, ablation of abnormal tissue using thermal energy, cryotherapy or endoscopic resection.

What if I am looking for advanced care or a second opinion?

We understand the concerns that come with the diagnosis of appendicitis. Whether you are looking for a diagnosis or a second opinion, we’re here to help. The center’s compassionate team of gastroenterologists will diagnose your condition and design a personalized treatment plan that works for you and your family.

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    Foregut Disease Program

    The Foregut Disease Program at Houston Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders offers exceptional care to patients with complex disorders of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Learn more  >