With the use of the BARRX HALO systems, Albany Med is now able to treat the condition with ablation therapy—the use of high radiofrequency energy to remove the diseased layer of cells—and potentially eliminate the condition before it has the opportunity to progress to cancer.
Often associated with GERD, Barrett’s esophagus refers to a precancerous change to the thin layer of tissue lining the esophagus. An estimated 3.3 million American adults have Barrett’s esophagus, and while the risk is low, left untreated Barrett’s esophagus can lead to esophageal adenocarcinoma—the most rapidly rising cancer in the U.S.
“For a number of years, the standard of care for patients with Barrett’s espophagus was monitoring via frequent endoscopies to ensure that that the disease had not progressed to cancer,” said Seth Richter, M.D., assistant professor of medicine. “Today, we are able to safely remove the precancerous cells at earlier stages and allow for healthy cell regeneration.”
Using the BARRX HALO system, the ablation procedure is performed without incisions using conscious sedation in an outpatient setting. Using an endoscopic procedure, the physician directs the HALO system’s specialized catheter down the throat to the diseased area of the esophagus. During the half-hour long procedure, the HALO energy generator is activated to deliver short, consistent bursts of ablative energy to safely remove the very thin layer of the diseased esophagus. The patient typically undergoes three to four such procedures over a period of several months to ensure the eradication of the precancerous tissue.
According to Dr. Richter, this technique proactively treats Barrett’s esophagus but does not treat GERD. “While eliminating Barrett’s esophagus tissue is beneficial in terms of reducing the risk of esophageal cancer, it does not cure the pre-existing reflux disease or the associated symptoms,” notes Ricther. “Patients will have to continue to manage GERD through diet, medication, and/or surgery as recommended by their physician.”
GERD is a chronic condition in which acid in the stomach backs up into the esophagus gradually causing damage to the lining of the esophageal wall. Symptoms often include heartburn, regurgitation and nausea. Those at highest risk for developing GERD are those with a family history. Diet, stress, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are also factors.
Albany Medical Center is northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center. It consists of Albany Medical College, Albany Medical Center Hospital and the Albany Medical Center Foundation, Inc. Additional information about Albany Medical Center can be found at www.amc.edu.
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