Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Endoscopy is generally used to determine if you have Barrett's esophagus.

A lighted tube with a camera at the end (endoscope) is passed down your throat to check for signs of changing esophagus tissue. Normal esophagus tissue appears pale and glossy. In Barrett's esophagus, the tissue appears red and velvety.

Your doctor is likely to remove a small tissue sample (biopsy). The biopsy can be examined to determine the degree of tissue change.

Determining the degree of tissue change

A doctor who specializes in examining tissue in a laboratory (pathologist) determines the degree of dysplasia in your esophagus cells. Your tissue may be classified as:

  • No dysplasia, if Barrett's esophagus is present but no precancerous changes are found in the cells.
  • Low-grade dysplasia, if cells show small signs of precancerous changes.
  • High-grade dysplasia, if cells show many changes. High-grade dysplasia is thought to be the final step before cells change into esophageal cancer.
Aug. 07, 2014

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