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Esophageal Dilation

What is Esophageal Dilation?

Esophageal dilation is a procedure that allows your doctor to dilate, or stretch, a narrowed area if your esophagus (swallowing tube).  This procedure is performed during an Upper Endoscopy.

Why is Esophageal Dilation done?

The most common cause of narrowing of the esophagus, or stricture, is scarring of the esophagus from reflux of stomach acid occurring in patients with heartburn.  Patients with a narrowed portion of the esophagus often have trouble swallowing; food feels like it is “stuck” in the chest region, causing discomfort or chest pain.

How is Esophageal Dilation performed?

Esophageal dilation is done during an Upper Endoscopy.  After the doctor surveys the esophagus, stomach and duodenum, he will determine whether to dilate the esophagus with a plastic dilator or a balloon dilator.  If the plastic dilator is used, a guide wire (a thin flexible wire) is inserted through the scope.  Once the wire is in place, the endoscope is removed and a dilator is slipped over the wire and into the esophagus.  If a balloon dilator is used, the device is inserted through the endoscope.  Once in place, the balloon is inflated to a specified diameter and then deflated.  This may be repeated several times.

Will repeat Dilations be necessary?

Depending on the degree and cause of narrowing of your esophagus, it is common to require repeat dilations.  This allows the dilation to be performed gradually and decreases the risk of complications.  Once the stricture, or narrowed esophagus, is completely dilated, repeat dilations may not be required.  If the stricture was due to acid reflux, acid-suppressing medicines can decrease the risk of stricture recurrence.  Your doctor will advise you on this.

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