Esophageal Dilatation

What is Esophageal Dilatation

Esophageal dilatation is a procedure to open a blocked or narrowed part of the esophagus.

The esophagus is the long tube in your throat that carries food and liquid from your mouth to your stomach. The procedure is also called esophageal dilation.

You may need this procedure if you have a buildup of scar tissue in your esophagus that makes it difficult, painful, or even impossible to swallow. This can be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In rare cases, people need this procedure because they have cancer of the esophagus or a problem with the way food moves through the esophagus. Sometimes you may need to have another dilatation to enlarge the opening of the esophagus gradually.

Tell a health care provider about:

  • Any allergies you have.
  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
  • Any problems you or family members have had with anesthetic medicines.
  • Any blood disorders you have.
  • Any surgeries you have had.
  • Any medical conditions you have.
  • Any antibiotic medicines you are required to take before dental procedures.

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems can occur and include:

  • Bleeding from a tear in the lining of the esophagus.
  • A hole (perforation) in the esophagus.

What happens before the procedure?

  • Do noteat or drink anything after midnight on the night before the procedure or as directed by your health care provider.
  • Ask your health care provider about changing or stopping your regular medicines. This is especially important if you are taking diabetes medicines or blood thinners.
  • Plan to have someone take you home after the procedure.

What happens during the procedure?

  • You will be given a medicine that makes you relaxed and sleepy (sedative).
  • A medicine may be sprayed or gargled to numb the back of the throat.
  • Your health care provider can use various instruments to do an esophageal dilatation. During the procedure, the instrument used will be placed in your mouth and passed down into your esophagus. Options include:
    • Simple dilators. This instrument is carefully placed in the esophagus to stretch it.
    • Guided wire bougies. In this method, a flexible tube (endoscope) is used to insert a wire into the esophagus. The dilator is passed over this wire to enlarge the esophagus. Then the wire is removed.
    • Balloon dilators. An endoscope with a small balloon at the end is passed down into the esophagus. Inflating the balloon gently stretches the esophagus and opens it up.

What happens after the procedure?

  • Your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level will be monitored often until the medicines you were given have worn off.
  • Your throat may feel slightly sore and will probably still feel numb. This will improve slowly over time.
  • You will not be allowed to eat or drink until the throat numbness has resolved.
  • If this is a same-day procedure, you may be allowed to go home once you have been able to drink, urinate, and sit on the edge of the bed without nausea or dizziness.
  • If this is a same-day procedure, you should have a friend or family member with you for the next 24 hours after the procedure.

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