Background: Because of the malignant potential of Barrett's oesophagus, an aim of treatment is to cause the columnar epithelium to regress. A logical approach is to decrease acid reflux which is an important aetiological factor in Barrett's oesophagus. Treatment with omeprazole 20-80 mg over 1-3 years has yielded conflicting but largely disappointing results.
Aim: To determine if treatment of Barrett's oesophagus with omeprazole 20 mg daily for up to 6 years can cause regression of the Barrett's epithelium.
Patients and methods: Forty-seven patients with Barrett's oesophagus were treated in an open prospective study. Nine patients were treated for 2 years, 12 for 3 years, 10 for 4 years, eight for 5 years and eight for 6 years. Patients were endoscoped at 1-2-year intervals and endoscoped at the end of the treatment period.
Results: No significant shortening of the length of the Barrett's segment was seen during any treatment period, although omeprazole controlled reflux symptoms and was well tolerated. Macroscopic squamous islands appeared in 55% of patients, mostly in the first 2-3 years although in five patients they appeared later in treatment.
Conclusion: Treatment of Barrett's oesophagus with omeprazole 20 mg daily for periods of up to 6 years did not cause regression in the length of the Barrett's segment, but it did lead in over half of the patients to partial re-epithelialization in the form of squamous islands.