Covidien ablation device wows in Barrett's esophagus reversal

Covidien ($COV) is celebrating results from a trial showing one of its ablation therapy devices helped prevent an advance to esophageal cancer by eliminating a precancerous condition known as Barrett's esophagus.

The news, disclosed as part of Digestive Disease Week 2013 in Orlando, FL, reflects money well spent. Covidien bought Barrx Medical, the maker of the ablation technology, back in late 2011 for $325 million.

Covidien execs specifically touted results from the company's SURF trial, a 136-patient study involving 9 European medical centers that looked at surveillance versus radiofrequency ablation using its Barrx RF Ablation System. They found that endoscopic ablation therapy helped reduce the risk of disease progression by a whopping 94% versus controls. Also, 90% of patients treated with ablation showed no sign of Barrett's esophagus tissue (scarring that increases the risk of esophageal cancer) at their last endoscopy visit. But patients not treated with ablation had no such good news to report.

The news here is doubly good. While more research is needed, using ablation--the chipping away of tissue--to address Barrett's esophagus could be a cost-effective and efficient way to keep patients from advancing to esophageal cancer, a condition that is notoriously hard to treat. But the results also reinforce the potential versatility of ablation and ablation devices to treat a variety of diseases and conditions, from uterine fibroids to tumors and more.

Covidien snatched up Barrx Medical in November 2011 with a goal of expanding its gastrointestinal treatment offerings.

- read the release