Barrett's esophagus is associated with esophageal adenocarcinoma, the incidence of which has been increasing dramatically.
The prevalence of Barrett's esophagus in the general population is uncertain because upper endoscopy is required for diagnosis.
Dr Jukka Ronkainen and colleagues from Sweden determined the prevalence of Barrett's esophagus.
The investigative team also assessed possible associated risk factors in an adult Swedish population.
The team surveyed a random sample of 3000 out of an adult population of 21,610 in 2 municipalities.
A validated gastrointestinal symptom questionnaire was used, with a 74% response rate.
|Barrett's esophagus occurred in 2% of those with reflux symptoms|
A random subsample of 1000 patients, of which 51% were female with a mean age of 54 years, underwent upper endoscopy.
The team defined endoscopic signs suggestive of columnar-lined esophagus as mucosal tongues or an upward shift of the squamocolumnar junction.
Barrett's esophagus was diagnosed when specialized intestinal metaplasia was detected histologically in suspected columnar-lined esophagus.
The investigators found that Barrett's was present in 16 subjects, of which 5 had a long segment and 11 a short segment.
Overall, 40% reported reflux symptoms and 16% showed esophagitis.
The team noted that 10% had suspected columnar-lined esophagus, and 1% had a visible segment of 2 cm or more.
The prevalence of Barrett's esophagus in those with reflux symptoms was 2% and in those without reflux symptoms was 1%.
In those with esophagitis, the team found a prevalence of 3%, in those without, the prevalence was 1%.
The investigators observed that alcohol and smoking were independent risk factors for Barrett's esophagus.
Dr Ronkainen's team commented, “Barrett's esophagus was found in 2% of the general Swedish population.”
“Alcohol and smoking were significant risk factors.”