In his article in 1950 'Chronic peptic ulcer of the oesophagus and oesophagitis' Norman Barrell described the occurrence of ulcers in the lower part of the oesophagus lined by columnar epithelium (I). He believed that these were gast?c ulcers developing within a tubular intrathoracic extension of the stomach in patients with 'congenitally short oesophagi. Earlier descriptions of peptic ulcers located in the oesophagus had been given by Tileston in 1906 and Lyall in 1937. In 1953 Allison and Johnstone first used the term 'Barrell's ulcers' to indicate the presence of an ulcer in oesophageal columnar epithelium. They emphasized that the organ lined by gastric mucous membrane was the oesophagus, since it had no peritoneum covering its musculature and had islands of squamous epithelium. Furt.herrnore, they believed that the condition was acquired due to the progress of oesophagitis rather than congenital. In 1957 Barrett admitted that the tubular structure he initially described was indeed the oesophagus and published further cases of the lesion classifying it under the title 'Lower oesophagus lined with columnar epithelium'. This columnar mucosal lining of the distal oesophagus is commonly referred to as Barrell's mucosa. Lortat-Jacob in 1957 described the same condition as endo-brachyoesophagus, which he defined as a short oesophagus whose sole criterion of shortness was its endocavitary, i.e. its mucosal appearance. Endo-brachyoesophagus as synonymous with Barrett's oesophagus is frequently used in the French, German and Swiss literature. Barrett's oesophagus is a condition in which a variable length of squamous epithelium in the distal oesophagus is replaced by columnar epithelium.

oesophagus, Barrett Syndrome, gastroenterology
J. Jeekel (Hans)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Janssen-Cilag BV, Astra Pharmaceutica BV, Glaxo Wellcome BV, Byk Nederland BV
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Menke-Pluymers, M.B.E. (1996, March 20). Neoplastic progression in Barrett's Oesophagus. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from