If you suffer from Barrett’s esophagus, a complication often associated with long-term gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you know it comes with an increased risk of esophageal cancer. Halo ablation is one of the preferred treatments for Barrett’s esophagus, but is it safe? Find out whether you should be concerned about the risk of complication from the procedure.
What is Barrett’s Esophagus, and How Does Halo Ablation Help?
Most people who receive a diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus have previously been diagnosed with GERD. This condition is characterized by changes in the esophageal tissue as it’s replaced by a tissue more like that of the intestinal lining but does not cause any symptoms on its own. For patients with GERD, any signs are typically those of chronic reflux: frequent heartburn, difficulty swallowing and, in rare cases, chest pain.
Sometimes, Barrett’s esophagus develops in patients who have never experienced acid reflux or heartburn. Why these people develop the condition is not yet clear. Barrett’s esophagus is usually diagnosed after endoscopy.
Radiofrequency ablation, or Halo ablation, destroys abnormal cells while protecting the underlying healthy tissue utilizing radio waves delivered through an endoscope. The procedure is performed under sedation, so you’ll feel no discomfort while it’s being performed
Recovering from Halo Ablation
For a few days after the procedure, some patients report difficulty swallowing or slight discomfort in the chest. While the esophagus heals, you’ll need to make sure to take any anti-acid medications to prevent further damage. Within two to three months of the initial procedure, you will need to have a follow-up endoscopy to determine whether you need further ablation treatments.
As with any procedure, there are some complications associated with Halo ablation. Overall, however, it has proven to be a safe treatment for Barrett’s esophagus. 1-2% of patients report more severe post-procedure pain which lasts longer than a few days. Very rarely, pain management for these patients has required hospitalization.
Development of esophageal strictures is the most common delayed complication, but it’s more likely to appear in patients who previously underwent endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR). Extremely rarely, perforations have occurred during the procedure. In most cases, they occur during insertion of the ablation catheter, or during removal. No deaths associated with Halo ablation have ever been reported.
If you suffer from Barrett’s esophagus, contact Gastroenterology Diagnostics Center today and schedule an appointment to discuss your treatment options.