The histopathology of treated Barrett's esophagus: squamous reepithelialization after acid suppression and laser and photodynamic therapy

Am J Surg Pathol. 1998 Feb;22(2):239-45. doi: 10.1097/00000478-199802000-00013.


Columnar metaplasia of the lower esophageal epithelium (Barrett's esophagus) occurs in response to acid reflux, and its most important long-term complication is malignancy. In view of this, techniques are being explored for the eradication of Barrett's esophagus, and histopathologists will increasingly be required to assess response to these therapies in esophageal biopsy samples. The histopathologic features before and after treatment were studied in biopsy samples from 16 patients receiving omeprazole only, 10 treated by KTP laser photoablation, and five who underwent photodynamic therapy. All the treatment modalities resulted in histologic changes with at least partial squamous reepithelialization of the metaplastic columnar epithelium. The histologic findings suggest three main mechanisms for this: encroachment of adjacent squamous epithelium at the squamocolumnar junction, extension of epithelium from the submucosal gland duct to form squamous islands, and squamous metaplasia within the Barrett's columnar mucosa itself. The latter mechanism implies the existence of pluripotential stem cells within Barrett's mucosa. A relatively common finding was residual glandular mucosa, nonneoplastic and dysplastic, beneath squamous epithelium indicating the requirement for histologic confirmation of endoscopically suspected complete squamous reepithelialization with sufficiently deep biopsies.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology*
  • Barrett Esophagus / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photochemotherapy
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors


  • Proton Pump Inhibitors