Central and Eastern European Association for the Study of Barrett’s Esophagus

1st Central and Eastern European Conference on Radiofrequency Ablation for Barrett's Esophagus. Hotel Falkensteiner Belgrade. February 17-18, 2017.

Barrett’s esophagus (BE) confuses the minds of the physicians for almost seven decades. Even thou it is known that BE represent the consequence of gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), the exact diagnostic and treatment modalities are still not standardized around the World. Dramatic increase in the incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma gave burst to intense investigations regarding the biological nature and clinical implications of BE, introducing an interdisciplinary coherence of pathology, oncology, gastroenterology, endoscopy and surgery.

Endoscopic radiofrequency ablation (RFA) with Barrx™ system today represents a well-established, safe and effective procedure, therefore being a “golden tool“ for the treatment of most of the patients with BE. On a huge number of patients Barrx™ RFA absolutely revolutionized the treatment for BE, with high eradication rates of metaplastic and dysplastic changes and excellent long term safety profile.

A First Central and Eastern European conference on radiofrequency ablation for Barrett's esophagus was organized on 17th and 18th of February 2017, at the Hotel Falkenstainer in Belgrade, Serbia. The aim of this Conference was to overview the contemporary position in pathology, diagnosis and treatment of BE, as well as to try to establish the current status of Barrx™ radiofrequency ablation treatment of BE in countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The Organizing committee was composed of three leading experts in the field of RFA and BE in this part of the world, professors dr Aleksandar Simić from Serbia, dr Martin Riegler from Austria and dr Jan Martinek from Czech Republik. At the congress 19 delegates from ten countries were present combined with more than 40 Serbian physicians from the field of pathology, gastroenterology and surgery.

The first day of the conference was divided in three sessions encompassing a special topics concerning BE and RF ablation. Each session had three lectures presented by invited speakers from seven countries that were moderated by a member of the Organizing committee. The titles of the sessions were: Current Position of RFA in the Treatment of Barrett’s Esophagus, Contemporary Surveillance & Treatment Strategies for Barrett’s esophagus and Indications & Management Approaches for Barrx™ RFA. Overall 9 lectures and one special lecture concerning the novel 360 Express RFA Balloon Catheter was given. At the end of the first day an overall perspective of current management of BE was given.

On the second day ten delegates from each participating country gave an overall overview of current position of BE treatment and usage of Barrx™ radiofrequency ablation treatment in their countries. Special emphasis was given upon the fact that there are still many countries in this part of Europe that do not use Barrx RFA in the treatment of BE, and that in many of them there are no well-established high volume centers for the BE treatment. Having in mind a large population of these countries (approximately 120 million inhabitants), these countries seem to be a particularly important field for future employment of standardized diagnostic and treatment modalities for BE as well as for the Barrx™ radiofrequency ablation treatment.

After these presentations dr Martin Riegler gave a lecture entitled “How to provide proper reimbursement for the procedure - The road for the national and CEE joint strategy of EAC prevention”. As editor in chief of European Surgery Journal published by Springer, professor Riegler announced that he will publish the details regarding this conference and its most important clinical conclusions.

After an insight discussion by the members of the Organizing committee and delegates, dr Aleksandar Simic proposed a founding of a specialized professional organization entitled Central and Eastern European Association for the Study of Barrett’s Esophagus (CEABE). By forming this kind of society for a particular geographical region, all data concerning the BE and RFA can be centralized and processed with the intent of further work improvement and scientific development, as well as organizing conferences where experts from th1e region could exchange their knowledge. This idea was unanimously accepted by all delegates and participants.

Following the idea of forming a possible specialized association, dr Ognjan Skrobić from Serbia presented what should an Association Registry for BE and RFA look like and what would be the future steps for this association to start implementing its ideas. Also an Invitation to participate in randomized clinical trial entitled “Concomitant laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication and RFA in the treatment of long segment Barrett esophagus” was put to discussion, and some of the conference participants already announced their willingness to be a part of this future trial.

The Conference was concluded by general agreement that further work on organizing an above mentioned society is necessary for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and that future steps will be announced shortly. All participants at this Conference agreed that this kind of communication is essential and that the Conference itself was a huge success.