Barrx - Barrett's Ablation
What is Barrx or Barrett's ablation?
Barrx or Barrett's ablation is a minimally invasive procedure for patients who have developed changes in the lining of their esophagus due to long-term acid reflux. Barrx is best for Barrett's esophagus with high grade dysplasia (severe changes). This technique provides a controlled-depth burn of the abnormal cells, which results in the elimination of the precancerous condition. An endoscope is used to reach the bottom portion of your esophagus. Through the endoscope, a small balloon is inflated to touch the areas in need of treatment. A short burst of energy is administered from the balloon to kill the abnormal cells. This removes the precancerous cells and reduces your risk of esophageal cancer. A few treatments may be needed to fully remove all of the Barrett's esophagus.
What is the preparation for Barrx?
An empty stomach allows for the best and safest examination. Your doctor will tell you when you should start fasting based on the date/time; usually midnight the day of your procedure. Tell your doctor in advance about any medications you take including; aspirin products or antiplatelet agents, arthritis medications, anticoagulants (blood thinners such as warfarin or heparin), clopidogrel, insulin or iron products. Discuss any allergies to medications as well as medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease.
What can I expect during a Barrx?
The doctor will have you lie on your side and the anesthesiologist/CRNA will give you gentle sedation. The doctor will then pass the endoscope through your mouth and into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The endoscope doesn't interfere with your breathing. The procedure takes about 20-30 minutes.
You will be monitored until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. You will be able to eat soft foods after you leave unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. A driver will be needed to drive you home. Even if you feel alert after the procedure, your judgment and reflexes could be impaired for the rest of the day.
Your throat might be a little sore, and you might feel some nausea for the next few days. This is normal.
What are possible complications of a Barrx?
Our doctors are board-certified gastroenterologists who are specially trained and have performed thousands of these procedures. Although complications can occur, they are extremely rare. Bleeding from a biopsy site if any tissue was removed, but it's usually minimal and rarely requires follow-up. Perforation (a hole or tear in the gastrointestinal tract lining) may require surgery but this is a very uncommon complication. Some patients might have a reaction to the sedatives or complications from heart or lung disease.
Although complications after upper endoscopy and Barrett's ablation are very uncommon, it's important to recognize early signs of possible complications. Contact your doctor immediately if you have a fever after the test or if you notice trouble swallowing or increasing throat, chest or abdominal pain, or bleeding, including black stools. Note that bleeding can occur several days after the procedure.
If you have any concerns about a possible complication, it is always best to contact your doctor right away.