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In Barrett's esophagus, the precursor to esophageal adenocarcinoma, the squamocolumnar junction (SCJ) between the normal esophagus and the stomach like mucosa is proximally displaced. Currently it can be detected only by an expensive upper GI endoscopic procedure. The authors have developed a minimally invasive and easy to operate colorimetric instrument for the low-cost detection of Barrett's esophagus. The instrument is based on a flexible, narrow diameter, fiber-optic probe that performs a colorimetric scan of the esophageal lumen. The instrument was clinically evaluated in 50 subjects. The instrument could identify both symmetric and asymmetric SCJ's. The SCJ locations determined by the colorimetric instrument correlated strongly (R 2=0.89) with those determined by endoscopy. The instrument identified the SCJ locations accurately (Mean of difference ±SEM: 0.97±1.72 cm) and reproducibly (mean of absolute difference ±SEM: 1.33±1.40 cm). The instrument has a 90% sensitivity of identifying patients with Barrett's esophagus, based on the clinical algorithm that if the SCJ is located at a distance less than 37 cm from the teeth, then the subject has Barrett's esophagus, otherwise the subject does not have Barrett's esophagus. In conclusion, the colorimetric instrument has the potential of being a cost-effective way of determining patients likely to have Barrett's esophagus in the population.