You have been scheduled for a Barrx procedure or Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) therapy.
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) therapy has been shown to be safe and effective for treating Barrett’s esophagus. Radiofrequency energy (radio waves) is delivered via a catheter to the esophagus to remove diseased tissue while minimizing injury to healthy esophagus tissue. This is called ablation, which means the removal or destruction of abnormal tissue.
While you are sedated, a device is inserted through the mouth into the esophagus and used to deliver a controlled level of energy and power to remove a thin layer of diseased tissue. Less than one second of energy removes tissue to a depth of about one millimeter. The ability to provide a controlled amount of heat to diseased tissue is one mechanism by which this therapy has a lower rate of complications than other forms of ablation therapy.
Larger areas of Barrett’s tissue are treated with the balloon-mounted catheter. Smaller areas are treated with the endoscope-mounted catheter. Both are introduced during an upper endoscopy procedure, which is a thin, flexible tube inserted through a patient’s mouth.
Before the Procedure
You will need to start taking your PPI (Nexium, Dexilant, Aciphex) twice a day for 7 days prior to the procedure and 7 days after.
It is recommended that you discontinue platelet inhibiting agents 7 days before and after the treatment. This would include Plavix, ASA. You will need to speak with your physician if you feel those cannot be discontinued for that time.
Do not eat any solid food after midnight the night before the procedure. You may have clear liquids until 4 hours prior to the scheduled procedure time. You will need a driver to take you home.
After the Procedure
It is very important that you follow the discharge instructions provided by your doctor or the nursing staff.
Mild to moderate pain is to be expected and you will receive a prescription for pain medication.
Contact your physician immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Significant chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
Symptoms after treatment
You may experience chest discomfort, pain, and difficulty swallowing for several days after the procedure. These symptoms can all be managed with medications and will usually go away within three or four days.
Your doctor will prescribe antacid medications to help the healing of the esophagus. For most people, healthy tissue replaces the diseased tissue within three or four weeks.
If you seek care for a digestive issue from any other healthcare provider in the six months following the procedure, the doctor who did the RFA procedure should be consulted.
After your Radiofrequency ablation treatment, your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment within two to three months to evaluate your progress. If any remaining Barrett’s tissue is found, additional therapy may be recommended. Clinical studies have demonstrated that Barrett’s tissue can be eliminated with Radiofrequency ablation in more than 98% of patients.
Regular monitoring of people diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus is recommended even after Radiofrequency ablation therapy. This includes having an upper endoscopy with biopsies on a regular basis for the rest of your life. Your doctor will determine how often you should be evaluated based on the kind of Barrett’s esophagus you had.
Some insurance carriers consider this procedure to be in the experimental & investigation stage. We contact your insurance on your behalf; however, because this is new technology they may or may not cover the cost at this time. If it is determined your carrier will not pay for this procedure and you choose to have it done please contact our billing department for payment arrangements.