Barrett’s oesophagus and columnar metaplasia: saying what we mean

Norman J Carr
Med J Aust 2007; 187 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2007.tb01394.x
Published online: 5 November 2007

Straightforward, unambiguous terminology can reduce the risk of labelling patients inappropriately

Whenever the definition of a diagnostic term is changed, a Pandora’s box of potential confusion is opened. Are all clinicians and research investigators using the same criteria? If a patient has been given a diagnostic label, does it refer to the old or the new definition? Barrett’s oesophagus has changed its definition more than once over the past five decades and is a prime example of how changing definitions causes confusion for clinicians and investigators alike.1,2 A solution to this problem lies in avoiding the potentially confusing term “Barrett’s oesophagus” altogether. Moreover, this is possible by using existing terminology without the need for any new definitions.

  • Norman J Carr

  • Graduate School of Medicine, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW.


Competing interests:

None identified.


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