Innovative Procedure to Treat Barrett's Esophagus Now Available at Ocean Medical Center

Contact:Donna Sellmann, Public Relations Manager

Innovative Procedure to Treat Barrett's Esophagus Now Available at Ocean Medical Center

Treatment helps decrease risk of esophageal cancer

An innovative procedure, called radiofrequency ablation, is now available at Ocean Medical Center, where doctors can address the dangers of Barrett's esophagus. The treatment reduces the risk of developing esophageal cancer, the fastest growing cancer in the United States, which can result from Barrett's esophagus.

Barrett's esophagus is a disorder of the cells lining the esophagus, which can develop from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). "Constant acid reflux can damage the lining of the esophagus, causing the cells there to mutate. These abnormal cells, in turn, increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer," explains Neal Winzelberg, M.D., chief of gastroenterology at Ocean Medical Center. "The only way to know if a patient has Barrett's esophagus is by performing an upper endoscopy, which is recommended for all patients with GERD. A biopsy is taken during the endoscopy to determine if abnormal cells are present."

In the past, an endoscopy was performed to see if the cells were pre-cancerous or cancerous. The only treatment of Barrett's esophagus was to surgically remove the esophagus. Now, doctors can address Barrett's esophagus in the earliest stages. This procedure eliminates the risk for esophogeal cancer and actually restores the normal lining of the esophagus.

"Ablation is a simple procedure that is performed as part of the upper endoscopy," explains Dr. Winzelberg. "A balloon about the size of a fingertip is inserted and inflated in the part of the esophagus with the abnormal cells. The device heats the balloon and ablates - or burns - the abnormal area. Over a few weeks, the burned tissue will shed off, and new, normal lining returns."

The procedure is done on an outpatient basis; the patient is usually able to go home in two or three hours. A follow up endoscopy is performed six to eight weeks later to make sure all of the abnormal cells are gone.

To learn more about radiofrequency ablation to treat Barrett's Esophagus, call 1-800-DOCTORS for a free physician referral to one of the Ocean Medical Center doctors who performs the procedure.

About Ocean Medical Center
Ocean Medical Center, a member of the Meridian Health family, is a 281-bed non-profit community hospital located in the heart of Ocean County, New Jersey, providing health care programs and services in all major medical disciplines, including maternity; oncology; orthopedics and rehabilitation; general, neurological, thoracic, and vascular surgery; cardiology; dialysis; and emergency and critical care services. The Medical Center features Magnet award winning nurses and is a System Partner, along with the other Meridian Health facilities, with the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Ocean Medical Center also operates the state's first Satellite Emergency Department in Point Pleasant, called the Ocean Care Center. For more information, call the Meridian Health Line at 1-800-DOCTORS or log on to our web site at