Esophageal Dilation

During esophageal dilation, the doctor dilates, or stretches, a narrowed area of the esophagus (tube connecting mouth and stomach). The patient may be sedated or the doctor may apply a local anesthetic spray to the back of the throat before the procedure. This procedure is designed for patients whose narrowed esophagus often causes trouble swallowing.

What do I need to know for my esophageal dilation?

BEFORE: You should have nothing to drink, including water, for at least six hours before the procedure. Your doctor will tell you when to start fasting. Tell your doctor about any medications you take, any allergies to medications, or any medical conditions you have. Also, tell your doctor if you require antibiotics prior to dental procedures, because you may require antibiotics before your esophageal dilation as well. Your doctor will provide full preparation instructions to follow.

DURING: Your doctor may perform esophageal dilation in one of two ways:

  • The doctor may sedate you and pass an endoscope through your mouth and into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. This does not interfere with your breathing. He or she then determines whether to use a dilating balloon or plastic dilators over a guiding wire to stretch your esophagus. Some patients experience mild pressure in the back of your throat or in the chest during the procedure.
  • The doctor may spray your throat with a local anesthetic before passing a tapered dilating instrument through your mouth and into the esophagus.

AFTER: If you received sedatives, you will be monitored for a short time in the recovery area. You will also need someone else to drive you home. You may resume drinking when the anesthetic no longer causes numbness to your throat, unless instructed otherwise by your doctor. Most patients experience can resume eating the next day, but you might experience a mild sore throat for the remainder of the day.