Thumbnail image of: Digestive System: Illustration

Esophageal Dilation

What is esophageal dilation?

Esophageal dilation is a procedure to widen a part of your esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. Your healthcare provider can use a small balloon or tool to widen the esophagus.

When is it used?

This procedure is done when you have a medical problem that has caused a blockage or narrowing of the esophagus and is making it hard for you to swallow.

Ask your healthcare provider about your choices for treatment and the risks.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

  • Plan for your care and a ride home after the procedure.
  • You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure. Some medicines (like aspirin) may increase your risk of bleeding during or after the procedure. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that you take. Ask your provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have any food or medicine allergies.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep you from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Follow your provider’s instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers may have more breathing problems during the procedure and heal more slowly. It’s best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery.
  • Follow any other instructions your healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

You will be given a local anesthetic before the procedure to numb your esophagus. You may be given medicine with the local anesthetic to help you relax.

Your healthcare provider will insert a long, flexible tube with a scope into your mouth and down to the narrow part of your esophagus. He will then insert a balloon or a guidewire through the tube. He will carefully expand the balloon or slide a tool over the guidewire to open your esophagus. You may have a feeling of pressure during the procedure. After the procedure is done, your provider will remove the tube, and balloon or tool. You may need this procedure done several times to help open the narrow part of your esophagus.

What happens after the procedure?

After the procedure you may stay in a recovery area for at least a half an hour.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • You may have problems with anesthesia.
  • Your esophagus may tear and need surgical repair.
  • You may have infection or bleeding.

You should ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-07-17
Last reviewed: 2014-07-17
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

Patient Portal

Our Patient Portal provides safe and secure online access to better communicate with your Tufts Medical Center Community Care doctor. This easy-to-use web tool is a convenient way to book appointments, request referrals, renew prescriptions, view medical records/test results and communicate with your healthcare provider from the privacy of your own computer.