Background: The rising incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma in western countries requires a new strategy in the management of dysplasia in Barrett's esophagus. Esophagectomy, which has high morbidity and mortality rates, has been recommended to treat patients with severe dysplasia. Strictly superficial laser coagulation with tissue ablation therefore is a desirable option for the management of dysplasia in Barrett's esophagus because the tissue to be ablated is only about 2 mm thick. Potassium-titanyl-phosphate (KTP) laser light with a wavelength of 532 nm is preferentially absorbed by hemoglobin and therefore combines excellent coagulation with limited tissue penetration. We report first clinical results with KTP laser superficial vaporization of dysplasia and early cancer in Barrett's esophagus.
Methods: Eight men and 2 women 43 to 84 years of age with short segments of Barrett's esophagus or traditional Barrett's esophagus and histologically proved low-grade (n = 4) and high-grade (n = 4) dysplasia or early adenocarcinoma (n = 2) were selected for this pilot study. For all patients thermal endoscopic destruction was conducted with a frequency-doubled neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd:YAG) KTP laser system. Laser therapy was performed by means of the free-beam method with coaxial insufflation of gas. An average of 2.4 sessions per patient were required for ablation of the Barrett's mucosa.
Results: Two to three days after laser treatment the response of the ablated mucosa was assessed with endoscopy and biopsy. Samples taken showed fibrinoid necrosis of the mucosal layer. A complete response was obtained for all 10 patients. Replacement by normal squamous cell epithelium was induced in combination with acid suppression therapy of up to 80 mg omeprazole daily. No complications occurred. In two patients biopsy showed specialized mucosa beneath the restored squamous cell epithelial layer. Follow-up times were as long as 15 months (mean value 10.6 months).
Conclusions: KTP laser destruction of Barrett's esophagus induced mucosal regeneration with normal squamous cell epithelium in combination with acid suppression. Limitation of the depth of thermal destruction in Barrett's esophagus minimizes risk for perforation or stricture formation. KTP laser ablation of Barrett's esophagus seems to be feasible and safe in short segments of Barrett's esophagus with dysplasia or early cancer.