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Radiofrequency Ablation For Barrett’s Esophagus Specialist

Marc David Makhani, MD -  - Gastroenterologist

LA Digestive Health and Wellness

Marc David Makhani, MD

Gastroenterologist located in Cedars-Sinai Medical Towers, Los Angeles, CA

Patients from Los Angeles, who suffer from Barrett’s Esophagus or abnormal cells in the esophagus can see Dr. Makhani at his welcoming offices at LA Digestive Health and Wellness, located at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Towers in Beverly Hills for radiofrequency ablation to treat this precancerous condition.

Radiofrequency Ablation for Barrett’s Esophagus Q & A

What is radiofrequency ablation?

Ablation is the process of heating cells or tissue until it is no longer alive and can be used in various parts of the body. Radiofrequency ablation heats the tissue with a controlled burst of energy which typically removes tissue to a depth of one millimeter with one second of treatment. Radiofrequency ablation is used to treat cancerous and precancerous conditions including Barrett’s Esophagus.

What is Barrett’s Esophagus?

Barrett’s Esophagus is a precancerous condition of the esophagus which affects an estimated three million adults in the United States. The condition is caused by the backup of stomach acid into the esophagus common to those who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The acid and enzymes that leak into the esophagus injure the lining, resulting in symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and chest pain. Over time, the cells genetically mutate and change into intestinal tissue. This change is called Barrett’s esophagus or intestinal metaplasia. Patients who suffer from GERD symptoms more than three days a week should see a physician to be screened for this condition.  

What preparation is required before Radiofrequency Ablation? What is the recovery time and follow-up?

The procedure is done via upper GI endoscopy with sedation. Make sure to refrain from eating or drinking after midnight the evening prior to the procedure. Most people have a small amount of throat discomfort and swallowing irritation for 1-2 days after the procedure. Timing of repeat therapy or surveillance is individualized on a case-by-case basis.

How are radiofrequency ablation treatments carried out?

The treatment is usually carried out on a sedated patient in conjunction with an upper endoscopy to allow the physician to see the treated areas.  The treatment is usually quick, lasting less than a half hour and is an outpatient procedure with no need for incisions. Once the patient is ready, the doctor will insert an endoscope and a catheter into the patient’s esophagus. The tip of the catheter has a balloon covered by radiofrequency electrodes. The doctor uses the endoscope to correctly place the electrodes, then will release a short burst of energy to target and remove the abnormal cells. Ablation technology only targets the top most layer of cells and is proven to remove abnormalities with minimal damage to healthy cells. Clinical trials showed that patients were free from Barrett’s at follow-up exams more than 30 months following the treatment.