Esophageal Dilation

Esophageal dilation is a procedure that allows a doctor to dilate, or stretch, a narrowed area of the esophagus. This procedure may be carried out during a sedated endoscopy or the doctor may apply a local anesthetic spray to the back of your throat and then pass a weighted dilator through your mouth and into your esophagus.

Purpose/Benefits of Esophageal Dilation
Esophageal dilation is used to treat esophageal strictures. The most common cause of stricture, or the narrowing of the esophagus, is scarring of the esophagus from reflux of gastric acid. Patients with esophageal stricture have trouble swallowing food and feel like it is “stuck” in the chest region, causing discomfort and pain. Other less common causes of stricture are scar tissue, cancer of the esophagus, scarring after radiation treatment or caustic injury after chemical ingestion.
Successful treatment of esophageal strictures requires dilation of the stricture and prevention of recurrence. Endoscopic balloon dilation and tapered dilating instrument are the most widely accepted treatment if feasible. This procedure has an excellent short term outcome with most patients able to tolerate oral food immediately after the procedure. However, the rate of recurrence is high and multiple procedures may need to be performed to achieve a good long term outcome.

Will repeat dilations be necessary?
Depending on the degree of stricture, repeat dilations are common. This allows the dilation to perform gradually and reduces the risk of complications. Once the narrowed esophagus is completely dilated, repeat dilations may not be required. If the symptoms were caused by acid reflux, medication may prevent recurrence.
What if this procedure is not performed?
The esophageal dilation procedure becomes necessary when it is difficult to swallow the food because of an obstruction. Not undergoing this procedure when you need it could result in a more severe obstruction and possibly a tear in the esophagus.

Surgical treatment.


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