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Oesophageal Dilation

What is Oesophageal Dilation?

Oesophageal dilation is a procedure which dilates or widens a narrowed or constricted section of the oesophagus. Also referred to as the swallowing tube, your oesophagus allows food and drinks to pass through it to your stomach.

Indications for Oesophageal Dilation

Some of the indications for oesophageal dilation include:

  • Peptic stricture: This condition is caused due to acid reflux which irritates the mucosal lining of the oesophagus.
  • Schatzki's ring: This is an abnormal tissue ring that develops at the junction between the oesophagus and the stomach.
  • Achalasia: This is a condition in which the muscles that control the movement of food through the oesophagus and oesophageal sphincter do not function properly to allow passage of food into the stomach.

Preparation for Oesophageal Dilation

  • You should inform your doctor of any medications, vitamins, or supplements that you are taking. Certain blood thinners may need to be avoided.
  • Inform your doctor if you are allergic to any medication or anaesthesia.
  • Avoid food and drink for several hours before the procedure.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you back home after the procedure.

Oesophageal Dilation Procedure

  • The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia or local anaesthesia to just numb your throat.
  • The physician inserts an endoscope, a flexible tube-like device with a light source and camera, through your mouth into your oesophagus. The endoscope does not interfere with your breathing. Fluoroscopy may be used to create a continuous x-ray image on a monitor throughout the procedure.
  • The strictures are widened by the use of certain special instruments, which are carefully inserted into your oesophagus through your mouth. Different types of instruments can be used for this process and they include:
    • Balloon dilator: A tiny, deflated balloon is inserted into the area of stricture through an endoscope. The balloon is slowly inflated and later deflated when the stricture is widened enough. 
    • Guided wire dilator: A thin wire is carefully eased down the oesophagus. A small tube that is wider on one end is guided down the wire into the stricture to stretch it. 
    • Bougies: These are cone-shaped, weighted tubes of different sizes. These cones will be inserted one after the other, in the ascending order of size, till the stricture is inflated to the required size. 
  • The procedure may last for15 to 20 minutes.

Postoperative Care Following Oesophageal Dilation

After the procedure, you will need to spend a few hours in the recovery room under observation. You may experience a sore throat and minor cramps. You can drink again after the numbness in your throat goes away. You can resume eating the next day.

Risks and Possible Complications of Oesophageal Dilation

Some of the risks and complications of oesophageal dilation include:

  • Infection
  • Presence of a hole or tear in the oesophagus lining
  • Anaesthetic complications
  • Bleeding

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