WATS 3D & Barrett's Esophagus

Heartburn, or acid reflux, is a common condition that starts in the esophagus. About 30 million Americans develop chronic acid reflux, also known as GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). Of those, 10% - 20% will develop a condition called Barrett’s Esophagus. Over time, a small percentage of Barrett’s cases can, if left untreated, progress to esophageal cancer.

Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the world and the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. 

The challenge of preventing esophageal cancer is that precancerous areas are not obviously visible. Current standard procedure calls for taking small, random forceps biopsies which test only a very small fraction of the esophagus, while potentially missing a great deal of still-curable precancerous disease.

SDG is the first GI practice in Denver to add WATS 3D to esophageal biopsies. WATS3D uses using a biopsy brush that both sweeps a wide area and reaches the bottom of the epithelium. (WATS3D stands for Wide Area Transepithelial Sample with 3-Dimensional Tissue Analysis). This results in a tissue sample that is 50X thicker than a standard forceps biopsy and cannot be analyzed by a standard microscope. 

The 3D image presents a view of the gland never seen before. In addition, the WATS3D scanner identifies and highlights the most suspicious cells and cell clusters in the specimen. These 2 advances provide the pathologist with even more diagnostic information. Once found, these cells can be treated or removed long before they can turn into esophageal cancer.  

To learn more about WATS 3D, watch this video or talk with your SDG physician. You can also view the results of a recent study on the effectiveness of WATS3D in detecting precancerous cells here