Pending Policies - Surgery

Endoscopic Radiofrequency Ablation or Cryoablation for Barretts Esophagus


Effective Date:05-15-2018



Radiofrequency ablation may be considered medically necessary for the treatment of Barrett’s esophagus with low-grade or high-grade dysplasia when confirmed by two pathologists prior to ablation.

NOTE: Radiofrequency ablation for Barrett’s esophagus with high-grade dysplasia may be used in combination with endoscopic mucosal resection of nodular/visible lesions.

Radiofrequency ablation is considered experimental, investigational and/or unproven for the treatment of Barrett’s esophagus when the above criteria are not met, including but not limited to Barrett’s esophagus in the absence of dysplasia.

Cryoablation is considered experimental, investigational and/or unproven for the treatment of Barrett’s esophagus, with or without dysplasia.


Barrett’s Esophagus and Risk of Esophageal Carcinoma

The esophagus is normally lined by squamous epithelium. Barrett’s esophagus (BE) is a condition in which the normal squamous epithelium is replaced by specialized columnar-type epithelium, known as intestinal metaplasia, in response to irritation and injury caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Occurring in the distal esophagus, BE may be of any length; it may be focal or circumferential, and can be seen on endoscopy as being a different color than the background squamous mucosa. Confirmation of BE requires biopsy of the columnar epithelium and microscopic identification of intestinal metaplasia.

Intestinal metaplasia is a precursor to esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is thought to result from a stepwise accumulation of genetic abnormalities in the specialized epithelium, resulting in the phenotypic expression of histologic features of low-grade dysplasia (LGD) to high grade dysplasia (HGD), to carcinoma. Two large epidemiologic studies published in 2011 reported the risk of progression to cancer in patients with BE. One study reported the rate of progression to cancer in more than 8000 patients with a mean duration of follow-up of 7 years (range, 1-20 years). (1) The de novo progression to cancer from BE at 1 year was 0.13%. The risk of progression was reported as 1.4% per year in patients with LGD and 0.17% per year in patients without dysplasia. This incidence translates into a risk of 10 to 11 times that of the general population. The other study identified over 11,000 patients with BE and, after a median follow-up of 5.2 years; it reported that the annual risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma was 0.12%.(2) Detection of LGD on index endoscopy was associated with an incidence rate for adenocarcinoma of 5.1 cases per 1000 person-years, and the incidence rate among patients without dysplasia was 1.0 case per 1000 person-years. Risk estimates for patients with HGD were slightly higher.

The reported risk of progression to cancer in BE in older studies was much higher, with an annual incidence of risk of 0.4% to 0.5% per year, with risk estimated at 30 to 40 times that of the general population. Current surveillance recommendations have been based on these higher risk estimates.


The management of BE includes treatment of GERD and surveillance endoscopy to detect progression to HGD or adenocarcinoma. The finding of HGD or early-stage adenocarcinoma warrants mucosal ablation or resection (either endoscopic mucosal resection [EMR] or esophagectomy).

EMR, either focal or circumferential, provides a histologic specimen for examination and staging (unlike ablative techniques). One 2007 study provided long-term results for EMR in 100 consecutive patients with early Barrett-associated adenocarcinoma (limited to the mucosa). (3) The 5-year overall survival was 98% and, after a mean of 36.7 months, metachronous lesions were observed in 11% of patients. In a review by Pech and Ell (2009), the authors stated that circumferential EMR of the entire segment of BE leads to a stricture rate of 50%, and recurrences occur at a rate of up to 11%. (4)

Ablative Techniques

Available mucosal ablation techniques that include several thermal (multipolar electrocoagulation [MPEC], argon plasma coagulation [APC], heater probe, Nd:YAG laser, KTP-YAG laser, diode laser, argon laser, cryoablation) or nonthermal (5-aminolevulinic acid, photodynamic therapy [PDT]) techniques. In a 2005 randomized phase 3 trial, PDT was shown to significantly decrease the risk of adenocarcinoma in BE. (5)

The CryoSpray Ablation™ system uses a low-pressure spray for spraying liquid nitrogen through an upper endoscope. Cryotherapy allows for treatment of uneven surfaces; however, a disadvantage of the treatment is the uneven application inherent in spraying the cryogen.

The HALO system uses radiofrequency (RF) energy and consists of 2 components: an energy generator and an ablation catheter. The generator provides rapid (i.e., < 1 second) delivery of a predetermined amount of RF energy to the catheter. Both the HALO90 and HALO360 are inserted into the esophagus with an endoscope, using standard endoscopic techniques. The HALO90 catheter is plate-based and used for focal ablation of areas of BE up to 3 cm. The HALO360 uses a balloon catheter that is sized to fit the individual’s esophagus and is inflated to allow for circumferential ablation.

Ablation with RF affects only the most superficial layer of the esophagus (i.e., the mucosa), leaving the underlying tissues unharmed. Measures of efficacy for the procedure are eradication of intestinal metaplasia and postablation regrowth of the normal squamous epithelium. (Note: The eradication of intestinal metaplasia does not leave behind microscopic [or “buried”] foci). Reports of the efficacy of the HALO system in ablating BE have been as high as 70% (comparable with alternative methods of ablation [e.g., APC and MPEC]), and even higher in some reports. The incidence of leaving behind buried foci of intestinal metaplasia has been reported to be 20% to 44% with APC and 7% with MPEC; studies using the HALO system have reported 0%. (6) Another potential advantage to the HALO system is that because it is an automated process, it eliminates operator-dependent error that may be seen with APC or MPEC.

The risk of treating HGD or mucosal cancer solely with ablative techniques is undertreatment for approximately 10% of patients with undetected submucosal cancer, in whom esophagectomy would have been required. (4)

Regulatory Status

In 2005, the HALO360 (now Barrx™ 360 RFA Balloon Catheter; Barrx Medical, Sunnyvale, CA; acquired by Covidien in 2012) was cleared for marketing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through the 510(k) process and, in 2006, the HALO90 (now Barrx™ 90 RFA Focal Catheter) received clearance. FDA-labeled indications are for use in coagulation of bleeding and nonbleeding sites in the gastrointestinal tract, and include the treatment of BE. (7) FDA product code: GEI.

In December 2007, the CryoSpray Ablation™ system (formerly the SprayGenix Cryo Ablation system; CSA Medical, Lutherville, MD) was cleared for marketing by the FDA through the 510(k) process for use as a “cryosurgical tool for destruction of unwanted tissue in the field of general surgery, specifically for endoscopic applications.” (8) FDA product code: GEH.

In July 2002, the Polar Wand® device (Chek-Med Systems, Willington, CT), a cryosurgical device that uses compressed carbon dioxide, was cleared for marketing by the FDA through the 510(k) process. Indications for use are, “ablation of unwanted tissue in the fields of dermatology, gynecology, general surgery, urology, and gastroenterology.” (9)


This policy was originally developed in 2009 and has been updated periodically with searches of the MEDLINE database. The most recent literature update was performed through September 14, 2017.

Assessment of efficacy for therapeutic intervention involves a determination of whether an intervention improves health outcomes. The optimal study design for this purpose is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) that includes clinically relevant measures of health outcomes. Intermediate outcome measures, also known as surrogate outcome measures, may also be adequate if there is an established link between the intermediate outcome and true health outcomes. Nonrandomized comparative studies and uncontrolled studies can sometimes provide useful information on health outcomes but are prone to biases such as noncomparability of treatment groups, placebo effect, and variable natural history of the condition.

Radiofrequency Ablation for Barrett’s Esophagus

Radiofrequency Ablation Versus Surgical Resection for Barrett’s Esophagus With Dysplasia

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has been accepted as a less invasive alternative to surgical mucosal resection or esophagectomy, based on the results of randomized and nonrandomized trials. Early single-arm trials reported high rates of success in eradication of dysplastic and metaplastic tissue, with low rates of adverse effects. (6, 10-13)

Systematic Reviews

In 2014, Chadwick et al. reported on a systematic review that compared RFA and complete endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) for treatment of Barrett’s esophagus (BE). (14) Twenty studies (22 articles) were reviewed, including 2 RCTs, 10 cohort studies on EMR and 8 cohort studies on RFA. The only study that compared RFA and EMR was the RCT by van Vilsteren et al. (2011) (15); the other RCT was by Shaheen et al. (2009, 2011). (16, 17) The studies were heterogeneous in design. A total of 1087 (532 EMR, 555 RFA) patients with high-grade dysplasia (HGD) or intramucosal carcinoma (IC) were included in the studies reviewed. The median number of resections or RFA sessions required for the eradication of BE was two. Complete EMR and RFA eradicated BE dysplasia in 95% and 92% of patients, respectively. Eradication was maintained in 95% of EMR patients at a median follow-up of 23 months and in 94% of RFA patients at a median follow-up of 21 months. Fewer RFA patients experienced short-term adverse effects (2.5%) versus those who received complete EMR (12%). Esophageal strictures requiring additional treatment occurred in 4% of RFA patients and 38% of complete ER patients.

In 2013, Orman et al. reported on a systematic review and meta-analysis of 24 studies with a total of 4342 patients treated with RFA for BE dysplasia and intestinal metaplasia. (18) Included in this review were the studies by van Vilsteren et al. and Shaheen et al. (15-17) The studies reviewed were heterogeneous in design and contained a mix of nondysplastic and low-grade dysplasia (LGD) and HGD. The use of EMR varied in the studies and ranged from 0% to 96%. Patients were followed for a median of 20.5 months (range, 12-31 months). For patients treated with RFA, complete eradication of dysplasia occurred in 91% (95% confidence interval [CI], 87% to 95%), and complete eradication of intestinal metaplasia occurred in 78% (95% CI, 70% to 86%). Intestinal metaplasia recurred in 13% (95% CI, 9% to 18%) after eradication. In patients with complete eradication of intestinal metaplasia, 0.2% and 0.7% progressed to cancer during treatment and after treatment, respectively. The most frequent adverse event observed was esophageal stricture, which occurred in 5% of patients (95% CI, 3% to 7%).

Semlitsch et al. reported a systematic review of this evidence for RFA of BE based on a total of 9 observational studies (total N=429 patients). (19) Selection criteria required that studies include patients with BE and metaplasia or dysplasia for which RFA was the intervention (with or without EMR) and have a minimum follow-up period of 12 months. In 7 of the studies, patients were treated with circumferential ablation followed by focal ablation, whereas 2 studies used only the circumferential method. The maximum number of ablations performed was reported in 7 studies (range, 2 to 5 ablations). Complete eradication of BE with dysplasia and BE with metaplasia was achieved in 71% to 100% and 46% to 100% of patients, respectively. Six cases of esophageal stenosis and a case of buried intestinal metaplasia were reported among all patients.

Randomized Controlled Trials

Van Vilsteren et al. (2011) reported on the results of a multicenter, randomized trial that compared the safety of stepwise radical endoscopic resection (SRER) with focal EMR followed by RFA for complete eradication of BE 5 cm or less containing HGD or early cancer. (15) Patients in the SRER group underwent piecemeal EMR of 50% of BE followed by serial EMR. Patients in the EMR plus RFA group underwent focal EMR for visible lesions followed by serial RFA. Follow-up endoscopy with biopsies (4-quadrant/2 cm BE) was performed at 6 and 12 months and then annually. The main outcome measures were: stenosis rate; complications; complete histologic response for neoplasia (CR-neoplasia); and complete histologic response for intestinal metaplasia (CR-IM). CR-neoplasia was achieved in 25 of 25 (100%) SRER patients and in 21 of 22 (96%) patients receiving EMR plus RFA. CR-IM was achieved in 23 (92%) SRER patients and 21 (96%) patients receiving EMR plus RFA. The stenosis rate was significantly higher with SRER (88%) than with EMR plus RFA (14%; p<0.001), resulting in more therapeutic sessions in SRER (6 vs 3; p<0.001), due to dilations. After a median follow-up of 24 months, 1 SRER patient had recurrence of early cancer, requiring endoscopic resection. This trial confirmed that both techniques achieved comparably high rates of CR-IM and CR-neoplasia but found that SRER was associated with more complications and therapeutic sessions.

Noncomparative Studies

Since publication of the systematic reviews described above, individual noncomparative studies have described outcomes after use of combination EMR plus RFA to treat BE with HGD and any early cancer, if present. In 2016, Phoa et al. reported on a prospective, single-arm interventional study with 132 subjects that evaluated the use of EMR plus RFA for BE with HGD and/or early cancer. (20) Analysis was by intention-to-treat (ITT). At baseline endoscopy, all visible abnormalities were removed at a single endoscopic resection for histologic staging. After 2 mapping endoscopies, patients underwent the first RFA treatment for circumferential or focal ablation, after which they underwent RFA treatment every 3 months until visible BE was cleared. Complete eradication of neoplasia (absence of all HGD and early cancer on biopsy and endoscopic clearance of BE) and complete eradication of intestinal metaplasia were achieved in 92% (95% CI, 83% to 93%) and 87% (95% CI, 80% to 92%), respectively, of all patients who began the study.

Section Summary: Radiofrequency Ablation vs Surgical Resection for Barrett’s Esophague With Dysplasia

RFA is a less-invasive alternative to EMR and/or esophagectomy for BE with dysplasia. The available research has indicated that RFA results in similar efficacy for disease that has not extended into the submucosa, with fewer complications.

RFA vs Surveillance Alone for BE

RFA for Dysplastic BE

One randomized multicenter, sham-controlled trial has compared RFA with surveillance alone in BE with dysplasia. (16) This trial, by Shaheen et al., included patients with both HGD and LGD. A total of 127 patients with dysplastic BE were randomized in a 2:1 ratio to RFA or a sham procedure. The groups were assigned by grade of dysplasia (low grade [n=64] or high grade [n=63]) and length of the tissue lining with BE (<4 cm or 4-8 cm). Patients in the RFA group could receive up to 4 ablation sessions, performed at baseline and at 2, 4, and 9 months. Primary outcomes were the proportion of patients who had complete eradication of dysplasia at 12 months and the proportion of all patients who had complete eradication of intestinal metaplasia at 12 months. The proportion of patients who had progression of dysplasia was a secondary outcome; this included progression of LGD to HGD or cancer, and the progression of HGD to cancer. This trial was included in the 2010 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) Technology Evaluation Center (TEC) Assessment and was rated fair on formal quality assessment using the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force criteria. (21) The only obstacles to a good rating were missing details about random sequence generation and concealment of allocation.

Overall, complete eradication of intestinal metaplasia was 77.4% in the ablation group compared with 2.3% of the control group (p<0.001). Patients who did not receive RFA were more likely to have disease progression (16.3%) than those who received RFA (3.6%; p=0.03). Three serious adverse events occurred in the RFA group, including an episode of upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage, which was treated endoscopically, an overnight hospitalization for new-onset chest pain 8 days after RFA, and 1 night of hospitalization for an episode of chest discomfort and nausea immediately after RFA. No adverse events were observed in the control group. No esophageal perforations or procedure-related deaths occurred. Among patients in the RFA group, esophageal stricture developed in 5 patients (6%), all of whom successfully underwent dilated endoscopy.

In 2011, 2- and 3-year results of this trial were reported. (17) Subjects were followed for a mean period of 3.5 years, with 106 of 127 (83%) patients included in the analysis. Outcomes were eradication of dysplasia or intestinal metaplasia after 2 and 3 years, durability of response, disease progression, and adverse events. After 2 years, 101 of 106 (95%) patients had complete eradication of all dysplasia and 99 of 106 (93%) had eradication of intestinal metaplasia. Serious adverse events occurred in 4 of 119 subjects (3.4%). No perforations or procedure-related deaths occurred. The rate of esophageal stricture was 7.6%. The rate of esophageal adenocarcinoma was 1 per 181 patient-years (0.55%/patient-years); there was no cancer-related morbidity or mortality. The annual rate of any neoplastic progression was 1 per 73 patient-years (1.37%/patient-years). The authors concluded that, for patients with dysplastic BE, RFA was durable and associated with a low rate of disease progression for up to 3 years.

Section Summary: RFA for Dysplastic BE

The most direct evidence related to the efficacy of RFA for BE with dysplasia comes from a small-to-moderate, well-designed RCT comparing RFA with surveillance only in patients with LGD and HGD. RFA was associated with a lower risk of disease progression compared with surveillance.


In patients diagnosed with BE with HGD, risk of progression to cancer is relatively high, and esophageal adenocarcinoma is associated with poor morbidity and a 5-year survival rate of 13% or less. (22) Therefore, intervention with esophagectomy or RFA may be strongly indicated.

The 2009 RCT conducted by Shaheen et al. reported that RFA was successful in eradicating HGD, with complete eradication at 12 months achieved in 81% of the ablation group vs 19% in the control group (p<0.001). (16) This trial also confirmed a high risk of progression to cancer in patients with HGD and established that this progression was significantly reduced in patients treated with RFA. Among 63 patients with HGD in the trial, 19% in the control group progressed to cancer versus 2.4% in the RFA group (p=0.04). This represented a nearly 90% relative risk (RR) reduction for progression to cancer (RR=0.1; 95% CI, 0.01 to 1.0, p=0.04), and a number needed to treat of 6.0 to prevent 1 case of cancer over a 1-year period.

Longer term follow-up at 2 to 3 years reported that complete eradication of dysplasia was maintained in most participants with initial HGD. For 54 patients with HGD available for follow-up, all dysplasia was eradicated in 50 of 54 (93%), and all intestinal metaplasia was eradicated in 48 of 54 (89%). After 3 years, dysplasia was eradicated in 55 of 56 of subjects (98%), and all intestinal metaplasia was eradicated in 51 of 56 (91%). More than 75% of patients with HGD remained free of intestinal metaplasia with a follow-up of longer than 3 years, with no additional therapy.

RFA may be used alongside focal endoscopic resection. In the ITT analysis of a prospective interventional study (2016) that included 132 subjects with BE and HGD or early cancer treated with endoscopic resection followed by RFA, complete eradication of neoplasia and complete eradication of intestinal metaplasia occurred in 92% and 87% of subjects, respectively. (20) At a median follow-up of 27 months, neoplasia or intestinal metaplasia had recurred in 4% and 8% of subjects, respectively.

Barret et al. (2016) retrospectively analyzed a prospectively enrolled cohort including 40 patients with early BE who had a visible lesion and required EMR for the visible early neoplasia lesion, followed by RFA for the residual BE, which was done at the same procedure. (23) Follow-up was available for 34 patients at a median of 19 months. For the study’s primary outcome (complete remission of dysplasia), in the ITT analysis, remission was achieved in 85% of cohort participants; complete remission of intestinal metaplasia was achieved in 82.5% of cohort participants.

Section Summary: RFA for HGD

For patients with BE and HGD, there is a relatively high risk of progression to cancer, and interventions to prevent progression are warranted. RFA results in high rates of complete eradication of dysplasia that is durable for at least 2 years. One RCT demonstrated that following RFA, progression from HGD to cancer is reduced by approximately 90%, with rates of esophageal strictures of 6%.


In 2014, Almond et al. reported results of a meta-analysis of studies using endoscopic therapy for the treatment of BE with LGD. (24) The analysis included 37 studies, 9 of which evaluated RFA alone, including the Shaheen et al. RCT. Most studies were small, with the Shaheen et al. RCT representing the largest study (52 with LGD treated with RFA). For patients treated with RFA, the pooled incidence of cancer or HGD was 10.77 per 1000 patient-years (95% CI, 2.22 to 31.48 per 1000 patient-years). For RFA-treated patients, pooled rates of complete eradication of intestinal metaplasia and complete eradication of dysplasia were 87.2% (95% CI, 76.2% to 93.5%) and 90.6% (95% CI, 81.0% to 95.6%), respectively.

A 2010 BCBSA TEC Assessment evaluated the use of RFA plus surveillance vs surveillance alone in the treatment of nondysplastic and LGD BE and included the Shaheen RCT as well as 4 single-arm studies; it determined that the evidence was insufficient to permit conclusions on the use of RFA for patients with nondysplastic or LGD BE. (21)

Since the BCBSA TEC Assessment and the 2014 Almond systematic review, an RCT of RFA vs surveillance in patients with LGD has been published by Phoa et al. (2014) (25) This trial randomized 140 patients with BE and confirmed LGD; 4 patients were excluded after randomization for not meeting study inclusion criteria at further review, leaving a total of 136 patients in the modified ITT analysis. “Confirmed” LGD was defined as a diagnosis of LGD by the local pathologist with confirmation by a centralized expert panel of pathologists convened for the trial. The primary outcome measure was the occurrence of either HGD or adenocarcinoma up to 3 years after randomization. Secondary outcomes were complete eradication of dysplasia, the absence of intestinal metaplasia, and adverse events.

The trial was terminated early after interim analysis determined superiority of RFA. At termination, all patients had reached the 24-month follow-up time point, and the median follow-up was 36 months. The occurrence of adenocarcinoma was significantly lower in the RFA group (1.5%) than in the surveillance group (8.8%, p<0.03), and the occurrence of HGD was also significantly lower for the RFA group (1.5%) than for the surveillance group (26.5%, p<0.001). For patients treated with RFA, complete eradication of dysplasia during follow-up was 98.4% and the absence of metaplasia was 90.0%. There were 3 serious adverse events in 2 patients who received RFA (1 abdominal pain requiring hospitalization, 1 bleeding episode, 1 episode of fever/chills following dilation for stricture), and 12 other adverse events (8 strictures requiring dilation, 3 mucosal lacerations, 1 retrosternal pain).

In the Shaheen RCT, there were 64 patients with LGD for which subgroup analysis was reported. (16) At 12- month follow-up, dysplasia was completely eradicated in 90.5% of those in the RFA group, compared with 22.7% of those in the control group (p<0.001). No patients in the LGD group progressed to cancer over the initial 12 months. Progression to HGD was noted in 2 of 42 (5%) of patients in the RFA group, compared with 3 of 22 (14%) in the control group. The difference in rates of progression to HGD did not reach statistical significance (RR=0.3; 95% CI, 0.1 to 1.9; p=0.33). After 2 years, 52 subjects were available who had initial LGD treated with RFA. Progression from LGD to HGD or cancer occurred in 1 patient, for an estimated rate of 2.0% per patient-year. In patients with initial LGD, all dysplasia was eradicated in 51 of 52 (98%), and all intestinal metaplasia was eradicated in 51 of 52 (98%).

Selection of Patients With LGD

There are challenges in diagnostically differentiating between nondysplastic BE and BE with LGD; they are important when considering treatment for LGD. (26, 27) Both sampling bias and interobserver variability have been shown to be problematic. Therefore, analysis of progression to carcinoma in BE with intestinal metaplasia versus LGD is difficult. Initial diagnosis of BE can also be a challenge with respect to histologic grading because inflammation and LGD can share similar histologic characteristics. (28)

One approach to risk-stratify patients with an initial diagnosis of LGD has been to use multiple pathologists, including experts in gastrointestinal (GI) histopathology, to confirm the initial diagnosis of LGD. There is a high degree of interobserver variability among the pathology readings of LGD vs inflammatory changes, and the resultant variability in pathology diagnosis may contribute to the variable rates of progression of LGD reported in the literature. (21) Kerkhof et al. (2007) reported that, in patients with an initial pathologic diagnosis of LGD, review by an expert pathologist will result in the initial diagnosis being downgraded to nondysplasia in up to 50% of cases. (29) Curvers et al. (2010) tested this hypothesis in 147 patients with BE who were given an initial diagnosis of LGD. (30) All pathology slides were then read by 2 expert GI pathologists with extensive experience in BE; any disagreements among experts in the readings were resolved by consensus. Once this process was completed, 85% of initial diagnoses of LGD were downgraded to nondysplasia, leaving 22 of 147 patients (15%) with a confirmed diagnosis of LGD. All patients were followed for a mean of 5.1 years for progression to HGD or cancer. For patients with confirmed LGD, the rate of progression was 13.4%, compared with a rate of 0.5% for patients who had been downgraded to nondysplasia.

The strategy of having LGD confirmed by expert pathologists is supported by the results of the 2014 Phoa RCT, which required confirmation of LGD by a central expert panel following initial diagnosis by a local pathologist. (25) Of 511 patients with an initial diagnosis of LGD, 264 (52%) were excluded because the central expert panel reassigned classification of LGD, most often from LGD to indefinite or nondysplasia. These findings were further confirmed in a 2015 retrospective cohort study of 293 BE cases with LGD diagnosed over an 11-year period and submitted for expert panel review. (31) In this sample, 73% of subjects were downstaged.

Section Summary: RFA for LGD

The risk of progression from LGD to cancer is not well-defined, with highly variable rates reported in the published literature. Evidence from randomized and nonrandomized studies has established that RFA can achieve complete eradication of dysplasia in patients with LGD that is durable for at least 2 years. One RCT of 136 subjects reported a lower rate of progression to HGD or adenocarcinoma for patients who had confirmed LGD treated with RFA. This trial supports the strategy of selecting a population that has a higher risk of progression by subjecting the initial pathologic diagnosis of LGD to review by an expert in GI pathology. Expert review has reduced the number of patients diagnosed with LGD by 50% to 75%, presumably by reducing the number of patients with inflammatory changes who are miscategorized as having LGD.

RFA for BE Without Dysplasia

No RCTs were identified that evaluate RFA treatment of BE without dysplasia. The evidence on this issue consists of single-arm trials that have reported outcomes of RFA. This evidence can provide useful data on the success in eradicating dysplasia; however there is no high-quality evidence on the comparative efficacy of RFA vs surveillance alone. Progression to cancer in cases of nondysplastic BE is lower than that for LGD or HGD, with rates in the literature ranging from 0.05% to 0.5%. (1, 2)

Fleischer et al. (2008, 2010) reported the 5-year follow-up of a single-arm study of patients with nondysplastic BE treated with RFA. (32, 33) The original study included 70 patients who underwent circumferential RFA and CR-IM; defined as complete eradication of nondysplastic BE. (32) CR-IM was seen in 70% of patients at 1-year follow-up; patients with persistent BE underwent focal RFA. At the 2.5-year follow-up, CR-IM was found in 60 of 61 patients (98%). (32) At 5-year follow-up, 4-quadrant biopsies were obtained from every 1 cm of the original extent of BE, and the authors reported the proportion of patients demonstrating CR- IM. (33) If nondysplastic BE was identified at the 5-year follow-up, focal RFA was performed 1 month later and biopsies were repeated 2 months afterward to assess histologic response. Primary outcomes were the proportion of patients demonstrating CR-IM at 5-year biopsy or after a single session of focal RFA. For the 5-year follow-up, there were 60 eligible patients, 50 (83%) of whom participated. Forty-six of 50 patients (92%) showed CR-IM at the 5-year biopsy visit. The 4 patients found to have BE at 5 years underwent a single session of RFA 1 month after biopsy; all 4 patients had CR-IM at subsequent rebiopsy 2 months after RFA. No strictures were noted. The authors concluded that this first report of 5-year CR-IM outcomes lent support to the safety, efficacy, cost utility, and reduction in neoplastic progression in treating nondysplastic BE with RFA.

Section Summary: RFA for Nondysplastic BE

Nondysplastic BE has a relatively low rate of progression to cancer. Although available research has indicated that nondysplastic metaplasia can be eradicated by RFA, the risk-benefit ratio and the net effect on health outcomes is uncertain.

RFA Vs Photodynamic Therapy for BE

In 2013 Ertan et al. reported on a series of 86 consecutive patients treated with either photodynamic therapy (PDT) or RFA by a single investigator. (34) RFA was administered to 47 patients with LGD and 6 patients with HGD. PDT was administered to 33 patients with HGD. Average time from ablative therapy to follow-up biopsy was 33 months (range, 24-48 months) for RFA and 44 months (range, 24-60 months) for PDT. RFA resulted in significantly more complete eradication of dysplasia than PDT (88.7% vs 54.5%, respectively, p=0.001). However, interpretation of this study is limited by its nonrandomized nature and differences in the type of dysplasia between groups.

In a retrospective observational study of BE patients with HGD or adenocarcinoma, David et al. (2015) compared several endovascular therapies, including RFA, EMR plus RFA, and PDT. (35) Of the 342 patients included, 98 underwent EMR plus RFA, 119 had RFA alone, and 125 received PDT. Patients treated with PDT were typically older, had more advanced stages of BE, and had more comorbidities. In multivariable analysis, complete remission of intestinal metaplasia was more likely in those patients who received PDT than in those treated with EMR plus RFA (RR=2.69; p<0.001) or RFA alone (RR=4.47; p<0.001). However, the multivariable analysis did not adjust for a history of esophageal cancer, esophagectomy, or warfarin use. Among 121 patients who had at least 1 follow-up visit after complete remission of intestinal metaplasia was established, the disease recurrence rate was 32.2%, which did not differ across treatment groups.

Section Summary: RFA vs Photodynamic Therapy for BE

There is limited evidence to compare RFA with PDT for treatment of BE. There are no controlled trials, and the nonrandomized studies have provided mixed findings about the comparative efficacy of RFA compared with PDT.

Cryoablation of BE

Published efficacy data for cryoablation in BE are limited. Johnston et al. (2005) conducted a prospective, single-center pilot study in 11 men with BE and degrees of dysplasia ranging from none to multifocal HGD. (36) The mean length of BE was 4.6 cm (range, 1-8 cm). At 6-month follow-up, complete histologic eradication of BE was achieved in 7 of 9 patients (78%), completing the protocol.

A 2009 open-label, single-center, prospective, nonrandomized cohort study assessed the safety of cryoablation as a treatment option for BE with HGD or intramucosal carcinoma (IC). (37) Thirty patients who were either deemed high-risk surgical candidates or who refused esophagectomy underwent cryoablation. Twenty-seven patients (90%) had their pathology stage downgraded after treatment. After a median follow-up period of 12 months, elimination of cancer or downgrading of HGD was 68% for HGD and 80% for IC.

Greenwald et al. (2010) reported the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of low-pressure liquid nitrogen spray cryotherapy in 77 patients from multiple institutions who underwent a total of 377 procedures for BE with HGD (58.4%), IC (16.9%), invasive carcinoma (13%), BE without dysplasia (9.1%), and severe squamous dysplasia (2.6%). (38) The main outcome measurement was the incidence of serious adverse events and adverse effects from treatments. No adverse effects were reported by 28.6% of patients. The most common were chest pain (18%), dysphagia (13%), odynophagia (12.1%), and sore throat (9.6%). Esophageal stricture occurred in 3 patients, all of whom were successfully treated with dilation, and gastric perforation in 1 patient. No adverse effects were reported by 28.6% of patients. Complete response (CR) for HGD, any dysplasia, intestinal metaplasia, and cancer were assessed in patients completing therapy during the study period and having at least 1 follow-up endoscopy with biopsy for assessment of histologic regression of the underlying lesion (n=23). For patients with HGD (n=17), CR of the HGD, any dysplasia, and intestinal metaplasia was 94%, 88%, and 53%, respectively. For patients with IC (n=4), CR was 100% for cancer, HGD, and any dysplasia, and 75% for intestinal metaplasia. For patients with invasive cancer (n=3), CR was 100% for cancer, HGD, and any dysplasia, and 67% for intestinal metaplasia.

Shaheen et al. (2010) reported on a multicenter, retrospective cohort study that assessed the safety and efficacy of spray cryotherapy in 98 consecutive patients with BE and HGD. (39) A total of 333 cryotherapy treatments (mean 3.4 per patient) were performed, all with the intent to eradicate all BE. Sixty patients completed all planned cryotherapy treatments and were assessed for efficacy by follow-up endoscopy sessions with 4-quadrant biopsies performed every 1 to 2 cm. Fifty-eight patients (97%) had complete eradication of HGD, 52 (87%) had complete eradication of all dysplasia with persistent nondysplastic intestinal metaplasia, and 34 (57%) had complete eradication of all intestinal metaplasia. There were no esophageal perforations, and esophageal stricture occurred in 3 patients. The authors noted the limitations of the study: it was nonrandomized and retrospective without a control group, lacked centralized pathology, used surrogate outcomes for decreased cancer risk, and had a short follow-up (10.5 months).

In 2015, Canto et al. reported on a retrospective, single-center study that evaluated a carbon dioxide cryosurgery device for treatment of patients with neoplasia or HGD who were treatment-naive or who had persistent or recurrent neoplasia after initial treatment. (40) The study’s analysis included 68 patients who were offered treatment with cryoablation for either initial therapy (n=21) or after previous therapy with any ablative technique (n=47). At 1 year, CR for dysplasia was 89% (57/64) overall, and 95% (19/20) and 86% (38/44) in treatment-naive and previously treated patients, respectively. Over a median follow-up of 4.2 years, the differences in CR for HGD at 3 years or study end was not statistically significant between treatment-naive (100%) and previously treated (84%) patients (p=0.08).

Also in 2015, a retrospective, single-center study by Sengupta et al. evaluated cryoablation among 16 patients who failed RFA. (41) The cohort of 16 patients was derived from an original cohort of 121 patients who underwent RFA for BE with LGD, HCD, or IC. After a median of 3 treatments with RFA, 91 subjects had complete eradication of dysplasia. Of 21 patients offered cryotherapy, 16 underwent cryotherapy and had adequate follow-up. Fourteen of those who did not have complete eradication and 2 who had recurrence of dysplasia underwent salvage cryotherapy. Over a median follow-up of 2.5 months, and with a median of 3 cryotherapy treatments, 12 patients (75%) had complete eradication of dysplasia after cryotherapy and 14 (88%) had some improvement in pathology after cryotherapy.

Section Summary: Cryoablation of BE

There are no controlled trials evaluating cryoablation for the treatment of BE. The evidence from uncontrolled studies has reported high rates of success in eradicating dysplasia; with low rates of complications. These data are not sufficient to determine the comparative efficacy of cryoablation and RFA.

Summary of Evidence

For individuals who have Barrett’s esophagus (BE) with high-grade dysplasia (HGD) who receive endoscopic radiofrequency ablation (RFA), the evidence includes a randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing radical endoscopic resection with focal endoscopic resection followed by RFA, an RCT comparing RFA with surveillance alone, and a number of observational studies, some of which compared RFA with other endoscopic treatment modalities. Relevant outcomes are overall survival, change in disease status, morbid events, and treatment-related morbidity and mortality. The available evidence has shown that using RFA to treat BE with HGD is at least as effective in eradicating HGD as other ablative techniques, with a lower progression rate to cancer, and may be considered as an alternative to esophagectomy. Evidence from at least 1 RCT has demonstrated higher rates of eradication than surveillance alone. The evidence is sufficient to determine that the technology results in a meaningful improvement in the net health outcome.

For individuals who have BE with low-grade dysplasia (LGD) who receive endoscopic RFA, the evidence includes at least 2 RCTs comparing RFA with surveillance alone, a number of observational studies, and systematic reviews of these studies. Relevant outcomes are overall survival, change in disease status, morbid events, and treatment-related morbidity and mortality. For patients with confirmed LGD, evidence from an RCT suggests that RFA reduces progression to HGD and adenocarcinoma. Challenges exist in differentiating between nondysplastic BE and BE with LGD; making the correct diagnosis has important implications for of treatment decisions for LGD. One of the available RCTs required that LGD be confirmed by an expert panel, which supports the use of having a gastrointestinal pathologist confirm LGD before treatment of BE with LGD can begin. The evidence is sufficient to determine that the technology results in a meaningful improvement in the net health outcome.

For individuals who have BE without dysplasia who receive endoscopic RFA, the evidence includes single-arm studies reporting outcomes after RFA. Relevant outcomes are overall survival, change in disease status, morbid events, and treatment-related morbidity and mortality. The available studies suggest that nondysplastic metaplasia can be eradicated by RFA. However, the risk-benefit ratio and the net effect of RFA on health outcomes are unknown. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects of the technology on health outcomes.

For individuals who have BE with or without dysplasia who receive endoscopic cryoablation, the evidence includes noncomparative studies reporting outcomes after cryoablation. Relevant outcomes include overall survival, change in disease status, morbid events, and treatment-related morbidity and mortality. These studies have generally demonstrated high rates of eradication of dysplasia. However, the available evidence does not compare cryoablation with surgical care or RFA. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects of the technology on health outcomes.

Practice Guidelines and Position Statements

American College of Gastroenterology

In 2016, the American College of Gastroenterology issued guidelines on the diagnosis and management of Barrett’s esophagus (BE), which made statements about endoscopic therapies in general, as outlined in Table 1. (42)

Table 1. Guidelines on the Diagnosis and Management of Barrett’s Esophagus




Patients with nodularity in the BE segment should undergo endoscopic mucosal resection of the nodular lesion(s) as the initial diagnostic and therapeutic maneuver…. Histologic assessment of the EMR specimen should guide further therapy. In subjects with EMR specimens demonstrating HGD, or IMC, endoscopic ablative therapy of the remaining BE should be performed.



In patients with EMR specimens demonstrating neoplasia at a deep margin, residual neoplasia should be assumed, and surgical, systemic, or additional endoscopic therapies should be considered



Endoscopic ablative therapies should not be routinely applied to patients with nondysplastic BE because of their low risk of progression to EAC. Endoscopic eradication therapy is the procedure of choice for patients with confirmed LGD, and confirmed HGD, as noted above


Very low

In patients with T1a EAC, endoscopic therapy is the preferred therapeutic approach, being both effective and well tolerated



In patients with T1b EAC, consultation with multidisciplinary surgical oncology team should occur before embarking on endoscopic therapy. In such patients, endoscopic therapy may be an alternative strategy to esophagectomy, especially in those with superficial (sm1) disease with a well-differentiated neoplasm lacking lymphovascular invasion, as well as those who are poor surgical candidates



Routine staging of patients with nodular BE with EUS or other imaging modalities before EMR has no demonstrated benefit. Given the possibility of over- and understaging, findings of these modalities should not preclude the performance of EMR to stage-early neoplasia



In patients with known T1b disease, EUS may have a role in assessing and sampling regional lymph nodes, given the increased prevalence of lymph node involvement in these patients compared with less advanced disease



In patients with dysplastic BE who are to undergo endoscopic ablative therapy for nonnodular disease, radiofrequency ablation is currently the preferred endoscopic ablative therapy



BE: Barrett’s esophagus; EAC: esophageal adenocarcinoma; EMR: endoscopic mucosal resection; EUS: endoscopic ultrasound; HGD: high grade dysplasia; IMC: intramucosal carcinoma; LGD: low-grade dysplasia; LOE: level of evidence; SOR: strength of recommendation.

British Society of Gastroenterology

In 2014, the British Society of Gastroenterology published guidelines on the diagnosis and management of BE, which made the following recommendations on management of dysplasia and early cancer (see Table 2). (43):

Table 2. Guidelines on the Diagnosis and Management of Barrett’s Esophagus



Management of low-grade dysplasia (LGD) is unclear in view of limited data about the natural history. It is essential that the diagnosis is confirmed by two pathologists, and patients should be surveyed endoscopically at 6 monthly intervals. Currently, ablation therapy cannot be recommended routinely until more data are available


For HGD and Barrett’s-related adenocarcinoma confined to the mucosa, endoscopic therapy is referred over oesophagectomy or endoscopic surveillance


In the presence of HGD or intramucosal cancer without visible lesions (flat HGD/intramucosal cancer), these should be managed with an endoscopic ablative technique


There are few comparative data among ablative techniques, but RFA currently has a better safety and side-effect profile and comparable efficacy


Eradication of residual Barrett’s esophagus after focal ER reduces the risk of metachronous neoplasia and is recommended


ER: endoscopic resection; HGD: high-grade dysplasia; LOR; level of recommendation; RFA: radiofrequency ablation.

American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

In 2012, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy issued guidelines on the role of endoscopy in BE and other premalignant conditions of the esophagus. (44) These guidelines made the following recommendations on ablative therapies (see Table 3).

Table 3. Guidelines on Use of Endoscopy for BE and Other Esophageal Premalignant Conditions



We suggest that ablation be considered in select patients with LGD. Appropriate surveillance intervals after ablation are unknown


We recommend that endoscopic resection of nodular dysplastic BE be performed to determine the stage of dysplasia before considering other ablative endoscopic therapy


We suggest that local staging with EUS ± FNA is an option in select patients being considered for endoscopic ablative therapy

Very low

We recommend that eradication with endoscopic resection or RFA be considered for flat HGD in select cases because of its superior efficacy (compared with surveillance) and side effect profile (compared with esophagectomy)


BE: Barrett’s esophagus; EUS: endoscopic ultrasound; FNA: fine-needle aspiration; HGD: high-grade dysplasia; LGD: low-grade dysplasia; QOE: quality of evidence; RFA: radiofrequency ablation.

a Quality assessed using GRADE system.

American Gastroenterological Association

In 2015, the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) published consensus recommendations for the management of BE, dysplasia, and esophageal adenocarcinoma. (see Table 4). (45)

Table 4. Recommendations on Management of BE, Dysplasia, and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma



Strongly Agree




Strongly Disagree

Statements with ≥80% consensus agreement but generally low-quality evidence relevant to RFA for BE

In patients with BE undergoing endoscopic therapy, endoscopic resection of more than two-thirds of the circumference is not generally recommended due to the risk of stricture.





RFA is an acceptable treatment option for BE patients with flat mucosa containing HGD without any visible lesions confirmed by high-resolution, high-definition endoscopy.





Statements with consensus agreement <80% relevant to RFA for BE

In patients with BE, all cases of possible dysplasia (indefinite, low grade, high grade) should be reviewed by at least 2 additional pathologists with specific expertise in Barrett’s pathology





Values are percent.

BE: Barrett’s esophagus; RFA: radiofrequency ablation; HGD: high-grade dysplasia.

A 2011 AGA medical position statement on the management of BE recommended endoscopic eradication therapy with RFA, photodynamic therapy, or endoscopic mucosal resection rather than surveillance for treatment of patients with confirmed HGD within BE. They also stated that:

“Although endoscopic eradication therapy is not suggested for the general population of patients with Barrett’s esophagus in the absence of dysplasia, we suggest that RFA, with or without EMR [endoscopic mucosal resection], should be a therapeutic option for select individuals with non- dysplastic Barrett’s esophagus who are judged to be at increased risk for progression to high-grade dysplasia or cancer but that specific criteria that identify this population have not been fully defined at this time.”

“Endoscopic eradication therapy with RFA should also be a therapeutic option for treatment of patients with confirmed low-grade dysplasia in Barrett’s esophagus.”

The current literature is inadequate to recommend endoscopic eradication therapy with cryotherapy for patients with confirmed low-grade dysplasia (LGD) or HGD within BE or patients judged to be at high risk for progression to HGD or esophageal carcinoma. Further studies are needed to assess whether reversion to squamous epithelium can persist long-term after cryotherapy. (46)

Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons

In 2010, the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons published guidelines on the surgical treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, which included recommendations for the treatment of BE (see Table 5). (47)

Table 5. Guidelines on Surgical Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease



HGIN and IMC can be effectively treated with endoscopic therapy including PDT, EMR, and RFA, alone or in combination.


Antireflux surgery may be performed in a patient with non-neoplastic IM, IND, or LGIN, with or without endoscopic therapy to eradicate the Barrett’s tissue. Specifically, RFA has been shown to be safe, clinically effective, and cost-effective in these disease states and may be performed in eligible patients before, during, or after antireflux surgery.


EMR: endoscopic mucosal resection; GOR: grade of recommendation; HGIN: high-grade dysplasia; IM: intestinal metaplasia; IMC: intramucosal carcinoma; IND: indeterminate dysplasia; LGIN: low-grade dysplasia; PDT: photodynamic therapy; RFA: radiofrequency ablation.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network

National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines (V1.2018) for esophageal cancer make the following recommendations about early-stage esophageal adenocarcinomas (48):

Primary Treatment

“The goal of endoscopic therapy, [by endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD), and/or ablation], is the complete removal or eradication of early-stage disease (pTis, pT1a, and selected superficial pT1b without LVI) and pre-neoplastic tissue (Barrett’s esophagus).”

In early stage disease, Barrett’s esophagus associated with flat high-grade dysplasia (HGD) “should be treated by endoscopic resection (ER) as it provides more accurate histologic assessment of the lesion. Larger flat lesions (>2 cm) can be treated effectively by ER, but this is associated with greater risk of complications. Such lesions can be effectively treated by ablation alone, but there are very limited data on treating squamous cell HGD by ablation alone.”

“Lesions that are found to be pathologically limited to the lamina propria or muscularis mucosae (pT1a), or the superficial submucosa (pT1b), in the absence of evidence of lymph node metastases, LVI, or poor differentiation grade can be treated with full ER. Ablative therapy of residual Barrett’s esophagus should be performed following ER. Complete eradication of Barrett’s esophagus can also be performed with more aggressive application of EMR (wide field EMR) or ESD at the initial intervention, if necessary to completely resect an area of superficial tumor or mucosal nodularity less than or equal to 2 cm in maximal dimension.”

Post-Treatment Surveillance

“Endoscopic surveillance after ablative therapy or ER of early-stage esophageal cancer should continue after completion of treatment. Biopsies should be taken of the neosquamous mucosa even in the absence of mucosal abnormalities as dysplasia may occasionally be present beneath the squamous mucosa. Endoscopic surveillance should also include a search for the presence of Barrett’s esophagus and four-quadrant biopsies to detect residual or recurrent dysplasia. The ablation of residual or recurrent high-grade and low-grade dysplasia using RFA or cryoablation should be considered.”

Ongoing and Unpublished Clinical Trials

Some currently unpublished trials that might influence this review are listed in Table 6.

Table 6. Summary of Key Trials


Trial Name

Planned Enrollment

Completion Date



Clinical and Medico-economic Evaluation of Radiofrequency Ablation Versus Oesophagectomy in the Treatment of High Grade Dysplasia in Barrett’s Oesophagus


Nov 2018



Prospective Randomized Trial Comparing Radiofrequency Ablation (Barrx™) and Cryotherapy (truFreeze™) for the Treatment of Barrett’s Esophagus With High-Grade Dysplasia and/or Early Adenocarcinoma


Feb 2016 (unknown)

NCT: national clinical trial.


Each benefit plan, summary plan description or contract defines which services are covered, which services are excluded, and which services are subject to dollar caps or other limitations, conditions or exclusions. Members and their providers have the responsibility for consulting the member's benefit plan, summary plan description or contract to determine if there are any exclusions or other benefit limitations applicable to this service or supply. If there is a discrepancy between a Medical Policy and a member's benefit plan, summary plan description or contract, the benefit plan, summary plan description or contract will govern.


There is no CPT code specific to radiofrequency or cryoablation of tissue in the esophagus. These procedures would likely be coded using one of the following CPT codes: 43229 or 43270.


Disclaimer for coding information on Medical Policies

Procedure and diagnosis codes on Medical Policy documents are included only as a general reference tool for each policy. They may not be all-inclusive.

The presence or absence of procedure, service, supply, device or diagnosis codes in a Medical Policy document has no relevance for determination of benefit coverage for members or reimbursement for providers. Only the written coverage position in a medical policy should be used for such determinations.

Benefit coverage determinations based on written Medical Policy coverage positions must include review of the member’s benefit contract or Summary Plan Description (SPD) for defined coverage vs. non-coverage, benefit exclusions, and benefit limitations such as dollar or duration caps.


The following codes may be applicable to this Medical policy and may not be all inclusive.

CPT Codes

43229, 43257, 43270, 43499



ICD-9 Diagnosis Codes

Refer to the ICD-9-CM manual

ICD-9 Procedure Codes

Refer to the ICD-9-CM manual

ICD-10 Diagnosis Codes

Refer to the ICD-10-CM manual

ICD-10 Procedure Codes

Refer to the ICD-10-CM manual

Medicare Coverage:

The information contained in this section is for informational purposes only. HCSC makes no representation as to the accuracy of this information. It is not to be used for claims adjudication for HCSC Plans.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does not have a national Medicare coverage position. Coverage may be subject to local carrier discretion.

A national coverage position for Medicare may have been developed since this medical policy document was written. See Medicare's National Coverage at <>.


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Policy History:

Date Reason
5/15/2018 Document updated with literature review. Coverage unchanged. References 23, 31, 42 added.
4/15/2017 Reviewed. No changes.
7/15/2016 Document updated with literature review. The following change was made to Coverage: The experimental, investigational and/unproven statement for radiofrequency ablation was modified to include “for treatment of Barrett’s esophagus when the above criteria are not met, including but not limited to Barrett’s esophagus in the absence of dysplasia.”
2/15/2015 Document updated with literature review. Coverage unchanged.
12/1/2011 Document updated with literature review. The following was added: Radiofrequency ablation may be considered medically necessary for Barrett’s esophagus with low-grade dysplasia when confirmed by two pathologists prior to ablation.
5/1/2010 Medical document updated with literature review and title change to include cryoablation. Coverage position changed from experimental, investigational, and unproven to conditionally allow. Radiofrequency ablation may be considered medically necessary for Barrett’s esophagus with high-grade dysplasia when confirmed by two pathologists prior to ablation. Radiofrequency ablation is considered experimental, investigational and unproven for Barrett’s esophagus without dysplasia or with low-grade dysplasia. Cryoablation is considered experimental, investigational and unproven for Barrett’s esophagus, with or without dysplasia.
7/15/2009 New medical document

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