Esophageal Dilation

What is Esophageal Dilation?

Esophageal dilatation is a technique that allows your doctor to dilate or stretch a narrowed area of your esophagus or "food pipe". This is generally done while you are sedated at the time of upper endoscopy to visualize the esophagus. You would have your throat numbed with a local spray or gargle to eliminate choking or gagging. Esophageal dilatation is done to help patients who experience food sticking in the chest while eating, particularly solid food. It often results from a stricture or narrowing as a result of acid-reflux disease. Other causes might include a lower esophageal ring related to a hiatus hernia, or possibly tumor of the esophagus. Some people suffer from poor motility or peristalsis of the esophagus as food or liquids are transported downstream to the stomach.

There are a number of different techniques or pieces of equipment to carry out esophageal dilatation. A tapered tube might be passed orally through the esophagus and into the stomach. Another option your doctor might choose is an inflatable balloon which is passed through the endoscope’s operating channel, much like angioplasty of a blocked blood vessel.

Risks / Complications:

Patients may experience a sore throat for a day or two following endoscopy or dilatation which should resolve shortly. Bleeding may occur transiently, but is not usually noticed. The most serious risk would be esophageal or gastric perforation, but fortunately is quite rare. Esophageal dilatation is a safe and much appreciated procedure by those who have difficulty swallowing.