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Ablation Procedure for Barretts Esophagus

The Maine Digestive Health Center at the Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine, now offers a treatment option for patients with Barrett's esophagus, a precancerous condition caused by chronic acid reflux disease or GERD.

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An estimated 3.3 million American adults have Barrett's esophagus. Although the risk is low, if left untreated, Barrett's esophagus can lead to a dangerous type of cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is currently the most rapidly rising cancer in the U.S. Until now, there have been very few treatment options for this condition. Most patients receive periodical monitoring, "watchful waiting" to ensure their disease does not progressed to cancer.

Barrett's esophagus occurs when severe acid reflux, or GERD, causes the cells lining the esophagus to undergo genetic changes that can set the stage for cancer development. Barrett's has traditionally been managed with frequent endoscopic biopsy surveillance; however, many physicians believe in a more proactive treatment of Barrett's esophagus. One such proactive treatment is through the use of ablation which is the use of electrical energy to remove the diseased layer of cells from the esophagus. This option may eliminate the disease before it has the opportunity to progress to cancer.

The HALO Systems are the first among existing ablation tools to treat Barrett's esophagus in a uniformed and controlled manner. The technology can remove a thin layer of diseased tissue and allow the regrowth of normal cells without injuring healthy underlying tissue. Drs Howell, Millspaugh, Prokopiw, and Winchenbach of the Maine Digestive Health Center are able to use the HALO360 system treat patients with large segments of Barrett's tissue. The HALO90 System, which is uniquely designed for focal ablation of Barrett's and can be used independently or in conjunction with the HALO360 System. Following ablation with either the HALO360 or the HALO90 system the diseased tissue in most patients is replaced by new healthy tissue within three to four weeks time. In the largest study conducted with the HALO System, 98.4% percent of patients were Barrett's-free (at thirty-month follow up).

The ablation procedure is performed without incisions using conscious sedation in an out-patient setting. Using a catheter, the physician directs the HALO System down the throat to the diseased area of the esophagus. The HALO energy generator is activated to deliver a short burst of ablative energy, which removes a very thin layer of the diseased esophagus. The Maine Digestive Health Center was the first Maine location to offer this option for the management of Barrett's esophagus.

Now that technology is available to treat Barrett's disease before it progresses to cancer, there is an opportunity to improve the quality of life for the millions of Americans living with Barrett's esophagus.

For more information about Barrett's esophagus, the HALO360 System, the HALO90 System, or the risks associated with esophageal adenocarcinoma, please contact Portland Gastroenterology Associates at (207) 773-7964 or visit