Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) therapy has been shown to be safe and effective in treating Barrett’s esophagus. Radiofrequency energy (radio waves) is delivered via a catheter to the esophagus to remove diseased tissue while minimizing injury to healthy esophagus tissue. This is called ablation, which means the removal or destruction of abnormal tissue.
While you are sedated, a device is inserted through the mouth into the esophagus and used to deliver a controlled level of energy and power to remove a thin layer of diseased tissue. Less than one second of energy removes tissue to a depth of about one millimeter. The ability to provide a controlled amount of heat to diseased tissue is one mechanism by which this therapy has a lower rate of complications than other forms of ablation therapy.
Barrett’s Esophagus Facts
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition affecting the lining of the esophagus, the swallowing tube that carries foods and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. Barrett’s esophagus is caused by injury to the esophagus from the chronic backwash of stomach contents (like acid and enzymes) that occurs with acid reflux. There are no symptoms specific to Barrett’s esophagus, other than the typical symptoms of acid reflux (or GERD).
In some people, the damage and inflammation associated with acid reflux can cause genetic changes that cause the normal esophagus tissue to change into intestinal tissue (see image to right). When that happens, it is called Barrett’s esophagus (your doctor may refer to it as intestinal metaplasia). It is estimated that 13% of the people who have chronic acid reflux also have Barrett’s esophagus.