Background on the Disease
Barrett’s oesophagus is a diseased condition in which the flat pink lining of the swallowing tube, connecting the mouth and the stomach, known as the oesophagus, is damaged by acid reflux, which specifically causes the lining of the oesophagus to get thickened and turn into red colour from pink (Mayo Clinic, 2020). It should be taken into account that the prevalence rate of Barrett’s oesophagus in patients with simple reflux symptoms is approximately twenty-one per cent and this percentage is almost similar to those patients who are asthmatic (OESO, n.d.). It has been observed that globally, the range of prevalence of the disease varies between ten to twenty-one per cent (OESO, n.d.). It has been observed that no demography is free from the chance of developing the disease, irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, etc. and that, the disease eventually depends on the indication for endoscopic referral (OESO, n.d.).
Risk Factors, symptoms, clinical presentation of the disease
There are certain specific symptoms of the disease. For instance, the most common symptoms of Barrett’s oesophagus include frequent heartburn and regurgitation of stomach juice and other contents (food contents usually) (Mayo Clinic, 2020). It has also been observed that symptoms like difficulty in swallowing food and chest pain are also related to the concerned disease (Mayo Clinic, 2020). The clinical presentation of Barrett’s oesophagus includes chest pain, which may seem like a heart attack; depiction of difficulty in swallowing food; nausea and vomiting, especially vomiting red blood or blood looking like coffee grounds; changing of the colour of stool into black, tarry or bloody; and unintentional loss of weight (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Moreover, there are certain risk factors related to the disease. For example, a family history of having Barrett’s oesophagus plays a large role in increasing the chances of developing the disease (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Besides, it has been seen that men are more likely to develop the disease than women, and white people are at greater risk of developing the disease (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Though generally occurring in adults above fifty, the disease knows no age boundary (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Furthermore, chronic heartburn and acid reflux also increase the risk factor for the disease (Mayo Clinic, 2020). It has also been observed that smoking may eventually trigger Barrett’s oesophagus in many men (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Apart from this, being overweight and obese are two important risk factors in terms of developing the disease (Mayo Clinic, 2020).
Typical laboratory and diagnostic findings
Commonly, typical laboratory and diagnostic findings are based on certain clinical tests. For example, doctors, in the process of diagnosing the disease usually refer to endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) and even sometimes a biopsy of the same (NIH, 2017). Depending on the clinical and laboratory results gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is also a common laboratory and diagnostic finding that indicates the development of Barrett’s oesophagus (NIH, 2017).
A brief review of treatments
Periodic surveillance endoscopy along with biopsy falls among the treatment procedures for the disease (NIH, 2017a). It should be taken into account that, such surveillance is necessary as there is a tendency for Barrett’s oesophagus to turn into cancer. Moreover, there are medical administrations that should also be followed as a part of the treatment procedure. In this respect, it should be said that medicines like omeprazole, lansoprazole, pantoprazole, rabeprazole, esomeprazole and dexlansoprazole are usually administered as a part of the treatment process (NIH, 2017a).
It should be noted that one of the primary complications of Barrett’s oesophagus is that, with time, the abnormal oesophagal lining can eventually develop some early precancerous changes (Spechlar, 2018). As a prognosis, it can be said that the disease may turn into oesophagal cancer and if it remains untreated cancer can eventually spread and invade other surrounding tissues (Spechlar, 2018).
Changing in diet, especially switching to a nutritional diet, excluding fast food and spicy food, should be considered among the primary preventive measures against Barrett’s oesophagus. Moreover, proper diagnosis and treatment of GERD and common heartburn should also be considered as a prevention method for resisting the development of Barrett’s oesophagus.
The starting point for the discussion
Some specific innovative treatment processes are now being introduced to combat Barrett’s oesophagus. In this context, Cryotherapy deserves special mention (Digestive Healthcare Center, 2020). It should be taken into account that this is an FDA-approved treatment technique which is a type of ablation in which the affected tissue is exposed to very cold temperatures that eventually lead to the issue’s destruction (Digestive Healthcare Center, 2020). Then there has been the introduction of endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) (Digestive Healthcare Center, 2020).