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Valley Gastroenterology Providing State of the Art HALO Barrett’s Ablation Therapy


An outpatient treatment that destroys pre-cancerous tissue in the lining of the esophagus or food pipe is now available at Valley Gastroenterology & Endoscopy.

Known as HALO radiofrequency ablation, the procedure was recently featured in the New England Journal of Medicine as a highly effective treatment for complete eradication of Barrett’s esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition that affects two million adults in the United States each year.


According to Dr. Nitesh Ratnakar, M.D., FACG, a gastroenterologist specially trained in the HALO ablation therapy, Barrett’s esophagus occurs when the esophagus is chronically exposed to stomach acid, a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.  With prolonged acid exposure, normal cells in the esophagus undergo a genetic change and are then vulnerable to further changes that can lead to cancer.

Individuals with Barrett’s esophagus have an incidence of esophageal cancer that is 40 to 130 times higher than those without the condition. Esophageal cancer is presently the fastest growing form of cancer in the United States.


“The main purpose of the HALO procedure is to eradicate the abnormal lining of the esophagus,” says Dr. Ratnakar. “The tissue then regenerates and normal tissue grows back. This eliminates or markedly reduces the chances of cancer developing. Data from studies shows that the treatment is highly effective.” During the procedure, a catheter is positioned on the abnormal esophageal tissue. The physician delivers a rapid burst of energy which removes a very thin layer of the diseased esophagus. The procedure is performed in an outpatient setting without incisions, and takes less than 10 minutes on average.


For a person with Barrett’s disease, Dr. Ratnakar says the risk of developing esophageal cancer is similar to the risk of developing colon cancer for patients who have a colon polyp. However, unlike a colon polyp which is removed immediately upon diagnosis through a colonoscopy, prior to the availability of the HALO System the standard treatment for Barrett’s disease was “watchful waiting” to monitor the progression of the disease.


Previous therapies to remove or destroy pre-cancerous Barrett’s tissue had limitations and weren’t widely used,” says Dr. Daniel Shats, M.D., a digestive diseases & endoscopy specialist with Valley Gastroenterology & Endoscopy. “The HALO procedure not only removes the abnormal cells but also allows for regrowth of normal cells. It’s also easier to effectively treat patients using without injuring healthy underlying tissue.”


According to Dr. George Goetz, M.D., Ph.D.,  a gastroenterologist with Valley Gastroenterology & Endoscopy, esophageal cancer is often incurable because the disease is frequently discovered in the advanced stages. Esophageal cancer has a five-year patient survival rate of just 16 percent. “It usually starts with acid reflux but can become Barrett’s esophagus, which can lead to esophageal cancer,” says Dr. Goetz. “That’s why it’s important to seek medical treatment for symptoms of reflux, the most common being heartburn.”


The specialists at Valley Gastroenterology & Endoscopy provide treatment for a wide variety of digestive and liver diseases. They specialize in minimally invasive gastrointestinal procedures such as upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, and the HALO procedure. They provide screening and preventive examination for colon cancer. Patients can be seen at office locations in Wheeling, Glen Dale, Bellaire, St. Clairsville, Martins Ferry and Weirton.


For more information or to receive a brochure on Barrett’s Esophagus and the HALO Ablation Technology, call Ann Arno, RN at Valley Gastroenterology & Endoscopy at 740-699-2747 or click www.LearnAboutBarretts.com. or visit our web site localhost/valleygi.