Esophageal dilation addresses stricture due to acid reflux scarring

Esophageal dilation is a procedure that addresses stricture, or narrowing, of the esophagus, the swallowing tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. This stricture usually occurs as a result of acid reflux producing inflammation in the esophagus over a period of time. The inflammation leads to scarring, which leads to stricture. Less commonly, the condition may be caused by a tumor, rings of excess tissue (called Schatzki’s ring), or a congenital blockage in the esophagus.

How esophageal dilation works

There are different methods of dilation; a procedure usually performed during upper endoscopy. With balloon dilation, the doctor uses an endoscope to guide a deflated balloon into the stricture. Once there the balloon is inflated to form a sausage shape, the pressure of which “breaks” the stricture. Dilation can also be done with a “bougie,” a plastic tube of increasing thickness which eases the stricture open. Sometimes a stent will be inserted to keep the esophagus open.

Depending on the cause of the stricture and the extent to which the esophagus has narrowed, you may need additional dilations. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to control acid reflux to minimize the risk of further damage to your esophagus.

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