Barrett’s Esophagus

Other Known Aliases – Allison-Johnstone anomaly

Definitionmetaplastic change of the mucosal cells of the lower esophagus from normal stratified squamous epithelium to simple colunar epithelium and interspaced goblet cells

Clinical Significance these histologic changes are premaligant and significantly increases a patient’s risk for developing esophageal adenocarcinoma.

HistoryNamed after Norman Rupert Barrett (1903-1979), an Australian-born British thoracic surgeon who received his medical doctorate from Trinity College, Cambridge. He would practice his entire career at St. Thomas Hospital, with a brief training period in 1935-1936 when he traveled to the US on a Rockfeller Traveling Fellowship. It was here that he decided to pursue thoracic surgery instead of GI surgery. In 1947, he performed the first successful surgical repair of a ruptured esophagus. He would publish his eponymous findings of histologic changes of the distal esophagus in 1950, but erroneously believed this was due to congenitally shortened esophagus with a portion of the stomach trapped in the chest. Allison and Johnstone were the first to argue that these changes were esophagus, not stomach, and termed these ulcers “Barrett’s ulcers”. Of note, Allison first described this condition in 1948 before Barrett’s publication.


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  5. Up To Date. www.uptodate.com
  6. Barrett NR. Chronic peptic ulcer of the oesophagus and oesophagitis. British Journal of Surgery. 1950;38:175-182. [link]
  7. P. R. Allison, A. S. Johnstone. The esophagus lined with gastric mucous membrane. Thorax, 1953, 8: 87.
  8. P. R. Allison. Peptic ulcer of the Oesopahgus. Thorax, 1948, 3: 20.

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