Also known as:
Barrett ulcer, BE, Columnar-like esophagus, Columnar-lined esophagus
Barrett esophagus is a condition in which the cells that make up of the tissue of the lower end of the esophagus are abnormal. The esophagus is the thin tube that connects the back of the throat to the stomach. Chronic inflammation and ulceration of the lower end of the esophagus eventually causes the cells normally found there to be replaced by cells normally found in the intestines (intestinal metaplasia).
Barrett esophagus does not usually cause any noticeable symptoms (asymptomatic). The disorder is considered a premalignant condition and affected individuals are at an increased risk (although their overall risk remains low) of developing cancer (adenocarcinoma) of the esophagus.
Barrett esophagus usually occurs more often in individuals with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), a condition characterized by backflow (regurgitation) of the contents of stomach into the esophagus. The exact reason these tissue changes occur in Barrett esophagus is unknown.