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Esophageal Dilation

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What is Esophageal Dilation?

In an Esophageal Dilation, your physician uses a special tube to stretch out your esophagus. Your esophagus is the tube which connects your mouth to your stomach. If something damages your esophagus, it may narrow, making it difficult for you to swallow food. In the esophageal dilation, your doctor returns the esophagus to its proper size. Your doctor may sedate you or give you a local anesthetic for this procedure.

Why is Esophageal Dilation done?

Your Physician will recommend an esophageal dilation if your esophagus has narrowed so that it prevents you from swallowing properly. Untreated gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as acid reflux or GERD, can damage and scar the esophagus. Heavy scarring from GERD is the most common cause of a narrowed esophagus. In rare cases cancer, congential deformations, or scarring from radiation treatments can also cause the esophagus to narrow.

What do I need to do to get ready?

You will need to have an empty stomach to ensure that the esophageal dilation progresses smoothly. Stop eating food and unapproved beverages by midnight the night before the endoscopy. You may drink clear liquids until five hours before your endoscopy time. Approved clear liquids are: water, ap ple juice, white grape juice, cranberry juice, broth, bouillon, tea, black or sweetened coffee, colas/sod as/carbonated beverages, Gatorade or other sports drinks, popsicles, and Jello.

If you will receive general anesthesia, including Propofol, you must stop clear liquids earlier. Please refer to the specific instructions provided by your physician.

What can I expect during the procedure?

Your doctor will either sedate you for the esophageal dilation, or he will use a local anesthetic. If he uses sedation with upper endoscopy, he will pass a tube through your mouth, into your stomach, and then down into the duodenum, the place where your stomach meets your small intestine. This tube will not affect your ability to breath, but you might feel some pressure.

The doctor will inflate a small balloon or use plastic dilators on a guide wire in order to stretch out your esophagus. The procedure exerts a gentle pressure. If the doctor used only a loca l anesthetic he will use a dilating instrument which he places down your throat. He may use X-rays to guide the instrument.

If your esophageal narrowing is especially severe, you may need to have the procedure several times. This will allow your doctor to dilate your esophagus slowly and gently to avoid complications. If you treat the underlying condition which caused the esophageal narrowing, it should not reoccur in the future.

What Can I Expect After the Procedure?

After your doctor completes the Esophageal Dilation, medical staff will observe you for a short period of time. When your throat is no longer numb, you may drink again. Most patients begin to eat again on the day following the procedure. Some people complain of a mild sore throat that lasts a day. If you undergo sedation, you will not be allowed to drive home, or to drive for the rest of the day.

Are There Risks with This Procedure?

Complications from an Esophageal Dilation are rare, especially when a skilled physician performs the procedure. A small number of patients may experience a perforation to the esophagus which must be repaired by surgery. Some may experience tears to the esophageal lining or slight bleeding.
If you have black or bloody stools after the procedure, chest pain, a fever, trouble swallowing, or trouble breathing, call your doctor immediately.

 

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