What Is Esophageal Dilation?
At GI Specialists of Georgia, we diagnose and treat esophageal strictures with expertise, precision, and personalized care. The esophagus is the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Esophageal dilation is a medical procedure that involves esophagus stretching or widening of the esophagus. The procedure is often recommended for patients with conditions that cause narrowing or strictures in the esophagus, such as GERD, Barrett’s esophagus, or eosinophilic esophagitis. The purpose of esophageal dilation is to reduce symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, regurgitation, and chest pain.
Why Is Esophageal Dilation Performed?
If you are experiencing discomfort or pain in your throat while swallowing, you may have an esophageal stricture. Widening the esophagus through stretching is typically done when the esophagus becomes narrowed or constricted and swallowing becomes difficult. This narrowing may occur due to conditions such as, scarring from acid reflux, cancer, radiation therapy, and achalasia, a condition where the lower esophageal sphincter fails to relax properly and continues to spasm.
Methods of Esophageal Stretching Treatment
There are several methods of esophageal dilation, including balloon (the term pneumatic dilation is usually only used for a specialized procedure not commonly performed and reserved for Achalasia) and weighted bougie dilation. Balloon dilation involves using a balloon dilator that is inserted through the endoscope and inflated at the site of the stricture, causing the esophagus to stretch. Weighted bougie dilation involves using a tapered tube that is gently guided through the stricture to gradually widen the esophagus. Both methods are performed under deep sedation. The choice of method depends on the location and severity of the stricture, as well as your individual circumstances, medical history, and preference.
The Benefits of Esophageal Dilation
The benefits of esophageal dilation include an improved ability to swallow in addition to chest pain relief. It can improve the patient’s quality of life and reduces the risk of complications such as aspiration pneumonia. The procedure is generally safe, effective, and carries a minimal risk of complications. Patients usually experience quick recovery times and resume normal activities within a few hours or days of the procedure.
What Happens During & After Esophageal Dilation?
Esophageal dilation is performed by a gastroenterologist or endoscopist using an endoscope, a flexible tube with a camera and light on the end, and a dilator, a small inflatable balloon, or a tapered tube, that carefully stretches the esophagus. You will be given a sedative to make you comfortable during the procedure. The endoscope is inserted into the mouth and gently guided down the esophagus to the site of the stricture or narrowing. A dilator is then inserted through the endoscope or the mouth and slowly expanded to widen the esophagus.
Before an esophageal dilation procedure, you will be instructed to refrain from eating or drinking anything for at least six hours. If you are on certain medications, you may be asked to adjust dosage prior to the procedure. You may also receive medication to help you relax and reduce discomfort during the procedure. After the dilation, you will be monitored for any immediate complications. It’s possible that you will notice a sore throat following the procedure.
Why Choose GI Specialists of Georgia?
GI Specialists of Georgia’s team of professional gastroenterologists uses state-of-the-art equipment and techniques to perform safe and effective treatments. We prioritize patient comfort and offer personalized care to ensure that each patient receives the best possible outcome.
Contact Us to Schedule an Appointment in Atlanta, GA
If you are having trouble swallowing, don’t wait to seek treatment. Contact GI Specialists of Georgia today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced gastroenterologists. We will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan and provide safe and effective esophageal dilation procedures to improve your quality of life