The esophagus is the muscular tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. In some circumstances, chronic acid reflux can cause the esophagus to narrow, which is known as a stricture. Acid can burn and scar the esophagus, making it more difficult to swallow foods. Esophageal dilatation allows your physician to stretch or dilate your esophagus using small inflatable balloons.
Your doctor may recommend esophageal dilation if you are having difficulty swallowing foods, particularly solids, or have the sensation that food gets “stuck” or is slow to pass down the esophagus. It may also be recommended if evidence of a stricture appears on a scanning test.
- Do not eat or drink anything by mouth beginning at midnight the night before the procedure
- No laxative or bowel cleanse is needed
- Your doctor may ask you to temporarily stop some medications, such as blood thinners
What to Expect
Esophageal dilation is performed while you are sedated during an upper endoscopy. Your doctor will examine your esophagus and determine if dilation is needed. He or she will then determine if dilation should be performed with an inflatable balloon or with flexible, plastic dilators. The dilation will take several minutes to perform. After the procedure, you will be brought to our recovery suite. Your doctor will review the findings from the procedure and will provide a written report with photographs.
You may feel bloating or gas distention immediately after your procedure. You may also experience temporary cramping. A slight sore throat is not uncommon, and will typically improve within a day. The sedation you received will rapidly wear off, but you may feel slightly drowsy or groggy after the procedure.
Complications from esophageal dilation are rare, particularly when an experienced physician performs the procedure. However, there is a small chance that bleeding or injury to the esophagus may occur. In a very small percentage of procedures, a perforation, or hole, may form in the esophagus that can require surgery. Symptoms of a perforation include chest pain, fever, trouble breathing, or difficulty swallowing. Notify your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.