What is it?

Esophageal dilation is a procedure that allows your doctor to dilate, or stretch, a narrowed area of your esophagus (swallowing tube) to relieve dysphagia.

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 and report that food feels stuck, causing discomfort or pain.

Benefits & Risks

Esophageal dilation provides patients relief from discomfort and pain in the esophagus and is a procedure with a quick recovery period. Patients are able to resume regular eating and drinking activities soon after the procedure.

Complications are rare in esophageal dilation but can occur, including perforation of or tear in the esophagus lining, and bleeding.

What to Expect

You will be given specific instructions to prepare for your esophageal dilation.

Before your procedure, you will need to have an empty stomach. Your physician will request that you don’t eat or drink after midnight on the day of your procedure. Additionally, if you take any blood-thinning medication, your physician may request that you stop using for 3-5 days before the test.

Doctors can use various techniques for this procedure. Your doctor might perform the procedure as part of a sedated endoscopy. Alternatively, your doctor might apply a local anesthetic spray to the back of your throat and then pass a weighted dilator through your mouth and into your esophagus.

After your procedure, you may resume drinking when the anesthetic no longer causes numbness to your throat, unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. Most patients experience no symptoms after this procedure and can resume eating the next day,but a mild sore throat is common.

If you received sedatives, you may feel a bit woozy. Under these circumstances, patients are required to have a licensed driver take them back home.