Objective: Short segments of intestinal metaplasia in the distal esophagus are being recognized with increasing frequency. Both long and short segments of Barrett's esophagus can progress to dysplasia and cancer. However, the risk of short-segment Barrett's esophagus (SSBE) for the development of dysplasia and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus is not yet known. Our purpose, therefore, was to determine the frequency with which dysplasia occurs in patients with SSBE.
Methods: Patients with SSBE were followed prospectively for the development of dysplasia. SSBE was defined as <3 cm of Barrett's-appearing epithelium above the gastroesophageal junction at endoscopy, with intestinal metaplasia on biopsy as documented by alcian blue stain at pH 2.5 on at least two endoscopic biopsies 6 months apart. Patients had interval upper endoscopy with systematic biopsy of the Barrett's segment.
Results: Fifty-nine SSBE patients were identified. The mean length of Barrett's mucosa was 1.5 +/- 0.1 cm; the mean age of the patients was 63.1 +/- 1.3 yr. Five patients had low-grade dysplasia (LGD) at initial endoscopy, for a prevalence of 8.5%; none had high grade dysplasia (HGD). Thirty-two patients had follow-up endoscopy over a mean period of 36.9 +/- 5.4 months. Five of these patients developed dysplasia on follow-up, three with LGD and two with HGD, the incidence of any dysplasia being 5.7% per year. One patient with HGD that developed during surveillance progressed to adenocarcinoma of the esophagus over a 2-yr period. The other patient with HGD had LGD on follow-up endoscopy. Six patients with initial LGD had no evidence of dysplasia on follow-up.
Conclusions: The prevalence of dysplasia was 8.5% with an incidence of 5.7% per year in this group of SSBE patients, followed prospectively. Although dysplastic changes may not be identified on follow-up examination, some patients progress to adenocarcinoma. Therefore, we recommend surveillance endoscopy and biopsy in patients with SSBE just as in those with long-segment Barrett's esophagus.