The Z line is the visible cellular difference between the cells that line the esophagus and those that line the stomach. The environment of the stomach produces different cells, which are capable of handling highly acidic state of digestive enzymes.
An irregular z line in esophagus refers to the concept of cellular changes that result in the esophageal cells as a result of continued exposure to stomach acids that regurgitate from the stomach into the esophagus due to acid reflux issues found in several gastrological conditions.
Irregular Z Line and Associated Conditions
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD, is the most common disease associated with an irregular Z line and is characterized by mild to severe heartburn symptoms, nausea, frequent belching, and bad breath. The disease results in stomach acid leaking into the esophageal space and can include stomach liquids reaching further up into the throat, mouth and sinuses.
With severe acid reflux, the acidic liquids that backup from the stomach into the esophagus can cause significant damage to the z line cells. These changes can even result in cellular degradation.
Another health condition associated with an irregular z line in esophagus is Barrett Esophagus, a disease characterized by more severe cellular changes in the esophageal cells. Barrett’s is a condition which can result from consistent acid reflux in some patients but also appears to be present in some patients with no symptoms of heartburn or regurgitation at all.
A small portion of those who present with irregular z line in esophagus issues and Barrett Esophagus may also develop serious disease, including cellular dysplasia that can lead to esophageal carcinoma, a form of cancer that is characterized by cells in the lining of the esophagus mutating.
How is an Irregular Z Line Diagnosis Achieved?
In order to properly diagnosis an irregular z line in esophagus, an endoscopic examination is required. The technician or physician who performs the endoscopy will look closely at the surface level appearance of cells in the esophagus and determine the overall condition of those cells.
Certain kinds of minute cellular changes are to be expected when GERD or Barrett Esophagus is present. The irregular appearance of cells can lead to further testing in order to rule out more serious health conditions like precancerous cell growth. If the endoscopy shows advanced irregular z line development or the appearance of esophageal cells is too pronounced, a biopsy may be called for to determine if more serious health concerns are present.
Many patients who have abnormal cell growth in the esophageal lining will be placed on a regular schedule for checking and rechecking the condition of the irregular z line in esophagus. This allows doctors to catch and treat serious cellular changes before disease advances.
Treatment of Irregular Z Line
Some patients have an irregular z line without any other symptoms, in which case the condition tends to go unnoticed and undiagnosed. Others have mild to severe heartburn or acid reflux. Treating the GERD can prevent the advancement of z line irregularities and has also be shown to lessen the chances of developing more serious conditions like esophageal carcinoma.
Continue to What an Irregular Z-Line Means to You article.