Esophageal Dilatation

Esophageal Dilatation is a procedure that is done to dilate or stretch a stricture, or narrowing, of your esophagus – the tube that leads to the stomach where swallowed food goes through. Food feels like it gets "stuck" causing pain or discomfort. The most common cause of narrowing is scarring from acid reflux - less common causes are rings of excess tissue, radiation treatment scarring, cancer of the esophagus or a lack of esophageal movement. Esophageal Dilatation is usually done at the same time as an EGD, or upper endoscopy. There are several different techniques that can be used by your doctor to perform this procedure. The risks and benefits and possibility of complications will be discussed with you by your doctor prior to your procedure.

For your Esophageal Dilatation, your stomach should be empty. You should have nothing to eat or drink for at least 6 hours prior to your procedure. This includes water, gum, and/or mints. Your physician will instruct you regarding the time to begin fasting depending on the time of your procedure. You may brush your teeth, but do not swallow water.

You will be sedated during the procedure so you must make arrangements to have someone drive you home. Sedation can affect your judgment and reflexes for the entire day. You will not be able to drive, drink alcohol, or operate machinery until the next day.

Prior to the procedure, you will have an intravenous inserted. Your nurse will obtain a full medical history from you, including medical conditions, previous surgery, medications you take, and family history. You will be brought to the procedure room on a stretcher and a heart monitor, blood pressure cuff and pulse oximetry monitor will be placed. You will also receive oxygen through a small tube under your nose. A small plastic bite guard will be gently placed between your teeth to protect the scope. Once you are positioned and monitored, sedation will be administered through your intravenous by our Anesthesiologist. You will drift off to sleep before your procedure begins.

During the procedure, your doctor will determine whether to use a dilating balloon, or special tapered silicone or polyvinyl chloride dilators in increasing increments of size. Sometimes a guidewire is used and x-ray also may be used by your doctor.

Once the procedure is complete you will awaken quickly and remain in the Post Anesthesia Care Suite until you are ready to go home. You may feel slightly bloated right after the procedure because of the air in your stomach - this should pass quickly. Your physician will explain the results to you after your procedure or at your follow-up visit. It is common to require repeat dilations, depending on the extent and cause of your narrowing. This allows the dilation to be performed gradually, and decreases the complication risk. Your doctor will advise you on taking acid suppressing medications if your stricture is due to acid reflux.

Following are instructions which will also be given to you by your doctor. Please review them and follow them as directed.

On the day of your procedure: Plan to arrive at the time designated by your physician.

  • Please bring your insurance card, Photo ID, insurance co-pay and all forms completed.
  • Please do not apply lotion before the procedure.
  • Please come accompanied by another adult or plan for a ride home – you will not be able to drive for 24 hours following sedation.
  • Please bring a list of your medications you are currently taking with the dosage and times including vitamins and herbal supplements.
  • If you take blood thinners, aspirin, Motrin, anti-inflammatory medication, notify your physician prior to your procedure.
  • If you are taking Blood Pressure medication, heart medication or seizure medication – you make take that in the morning with a sip of water.
  • Diabetic patients – Consult your PCP regarding medication the day of the procedure – your blood sugar level will be taken the day of the procedure.
  • Parking is available in the parking garage.
  • If you have any medical questions, please contact your doctor.