Regional Gastrointestinal Consultants

Esophageal Dilation

Esophageal Dilation

WHAT IS AN Esophageal Dilatation

Esophageal dilatation is a procedure that allows your physician to stretch, or dilate, your esophagus. Dilation is performed during an upper endoscopy. The esophagus is the muscular tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. In some circumstances, the esophagus may become narrow. This is known as a stricture. This most commonly happens from chronic acid reflux. Acid can burn, and scar, the esophagus, making it more difficult to swallow foods. In this situation, dilation may be needed to open up the narrow area. Your doctor will use specialized tools, such as inflatable balloons, to stretch the esophagus.

Your doctor may recommend esophageal dilation for the following reasons:

  • Difficulty swallowing foods, particularly solids
  • Sensation that food gets “stuck” or is slow to pass through the esophagus
  • Evidence of a stricture or narrow area on an x-ray test (such as a barium swallow)

WHAT HAPPENS DURING AN Esophageal Dilatation

Sometimes, the esophageal dilation procedure is performed along with an upper endoscopy. If this is the case for you, you will be sedated before the procedure begins. Then, you will be ready for your physician to pass the instrument into your mouth and down your throat. You will be able to continue breathing normally. In a variation of this procedure, your physician begins may use a tapered dilating instrument to dilate your esophagus.

Once inside the esophagus, your doctor will dilate the constricted area with either a dilating balloon or a plastic dilator. You will not feel any pain. In a short period of time after the procedure is over, you can return to your normal life. You will be able to drink fluids again after the anesthetic wears off. You are not likely to experience any side effects from this procedure other than a mild sore throat that will only last for about a day. You should be able to eat solid foods the next day.

After your doctor has managed to dilate your esophagus entirely, esophageal dilation will no longer be necessary for you. In the event that your esophagus became scarred because of acid reflux, you can prevent repeat procedures by taking acid-suppressing medications. Your doctor will educate you on this issue and make recommendations or prescribe medications to avoid this outcome.

WHAT TO EXPECT when having an Esophageal dilatation

First, when you arrive at our office you will be welcomed by our thoughtful staff and a dedicated team of experts that deliver personalize care. To add to your comfort level, we strive to keep the same physicians and nursing staff with the patient throughout all your appointments at the center. In this way, the staff gets to understand the patient’s concerns and conditions, and you get to know the persons taking care of you on a personal level.

Also, we strive to make your visit as hassle free as possible. We accurately schedule visits in advance, provide convenient onsite parking, and keep your waiting period to an absolute minimum. This is achieved by the fact that no emergency procedures are placed in front of your scheduled time (such as in most hospitals). Also, we do not double book patient appointments, when you are scheduled to be treated that time is assigned only to you.

When undergoing an esophageal dilatation, the following will apply to your procedural visit:

  • Before any procedure our staff will meet with you to address any last-minute questions you may have.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight of the eve of your procedure date. All patients with Barrett’s esophagus will also be treated with high-dose antacids (typically in the proton pump inhibitor family) indefinitely. A low-acid environment helps the body replace the removed tissue with normal tissue (squamous mucosa). Patients will remain in a surveillance program indefinitely to ensure that the Barrett’s mucosa, or diseased tissue, does not recur.

  • Prior to the procedure you will get changed into one our fresh medical gowns using our private restrooms, or a private patient changing area.
  • Once you have changed into the medical gown you will relax and laydown on a padded procedure gurney and you will be transported a short distance to our modern operating room.
  • In the operating room, you will meet with your gastroenterologist before your endoscopy to discuss the procedure, if you would like, and thereafter be administered sedation so that the procedure may commence.
    • When being sedated you will receive the highest quality anesthesia, administered by highly experienced professionals who will standby you monitoring your sedation throughout the entire procedure.
  • The procedure itself will take between 25 to 35 minutes.
  • After the procedure, you will be brought back into the post anesthesia recovery area where you will relax until the sedation has worn off.
    • After speaking with most patients about their procedure, patients universally comment (paraphrasing of course); “I remember getting changed, laying on the gurney, meeting with my doctor and waking up waiting for the procedure to start”. Once they find out the procedure was completed already, there is usually a couple chuckles they have with our staff.
  • With all that being said, once you are alert from your anesthesia, fully dressed and comfortable, you will meet with your physician to discuss the procedure results, before heading home.
    • A special note, because you will be sedated for the procedure, you will need to have someone to drive you home even after the sedation has initially worn off, though you may feel fine, your reflexes may be slower than usual until the anesthesia is completely out of your system which can take between 1 to 3 hours after the procedure.
  • Also, most patients can return to a normal eating habits immediately after an endoscopic procedure.

The most important thing to remember is not to worry! Our gastroenterologist are highly experienced physicians and we have completed thousands of dilatations, also we supply our gastroenterologist with only the best equipment to increase safety, as well as diagnostic and treatment effectiveness. Last, but certainly not least, please ask any questions you may have of your healthcare team, who will be there for you during and after your procedure, and all of whom are dedicated to ensure you receive the best care possible.


We recommend that people experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms do not attempt self-treatment. With many medications being available over the counter, and numerous do-it-yourself online unqualified remedy recommendation, it is natural to consider treating yourself but we highly recommend against this.

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms you may have a more significant issue than you would expect from the sometimes muted or infrequent symptom you may be experiencing. It is important to keep in mind that is you are having gastrointestinal symptoms or concerns it is best see a doctor to have those symptoms diagnosed and any conditions treated. Also, it is worth noting, that if health conditions do exist, the earlier they are diagnosed and treated, the greater the probability will be to successfully eliminate or manage a present condition, in fact successful outcomes will increase significantly with early detection.

If you have gastrointestinal concerns or are experiencing any gastrointestinal symptoms, please contact us promptly to schedule a consultation with a physician.


The information on this website is to provide general information. In no way, does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a best in class physician regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today at (215) 321-4700 to schedule a consultation.