In recent years, short-segment Barrett's esophagus (SSBE) has attracted increasing attention in the context of reflux disease. However, there is continuing controversy regarding its potential for malignant transformation.
Between October 1996 and September 1999, 50/115 patients (43 %) with intraepithelial high-grade neoplasia or early Barrett's adenocarcinoma, who underwent local endoscopic treatment, had developed a malignant lesion in an (SSBE). In the framework of a prospective observational study, 28 patients were treated with endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), 13 with photodynamic therapy, and three with argon plasma coagulation; six patients received combinations of these treatments.
Complete local remission was achieved in 48/49 patients (98 %). One patient switched to surgery after the first EMR, because there was submucosal tumor infiltration, and in one patient out of 50 local endoscopic treatment failed. A mean of 1.7 +/- 1.4 treatment sessions was required for local endoscopic treatment. The method-associated mortality was 0 %. The rate of relevant complications (stenosis, bleeding) was 6 % (3/50 patients). No cases of severe hemorrhage (Hb fall >2 g/dl) or perforation occurred. During a mean follow-up period of 34 +/- 10 months, metachronous intraepithelial high-grade neoplasms or early adenocarcinomas were seen in 11/48 patients (23 %), who received further successful endoscopic treatment. Four patients died during the follow-up period, but in only one patient was this due to his Barrett's adenocarcinoma (this was the patient who underwent esophageal resection).
The malignant potential of short-segment Barrett's esophagus must not be underestimated. Organ-preserving local endoscopic treatment shows good acute-phase and long-term results. Local endoscopic treatment represents an alternative to esophageal resection in the case of intraepithelial high-grade neoplasia and selected early adenocarcinomas in Barrett's esophagus.