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Esophageal Dilation

Esophageal dilation allows your physician to dilate, or stretch, a narrowed area of your esophagus. A common cause of narrowing of the esophagus is scarring from reflux of stomach acid for patients with heartburn. If you have a narrowed portion of the esophagus, you may experience difficulty swallowing, it might feel like food is "stuck" in your chest, causing discomfort or pain.

The Procedure

Esophageal dilation is performed during an upper endoscopy. Sedation will be administered for this procedure.

The endoscope will be passed through your mouth and into your esophagus, stomach and duodenum.

The physician will then pass a dilating balloon over a guiding wire to stretch your esophagus. You may experience mild pressure in the back of your throat or in your chest during the procedure.

After Your Appointment

After your esophageal dilation, you will be observed closely until you are fully awake. Many people do not even remember the procedure due to the sedative medication. Before you leave, your physician will discuss any preliminary findings with you. The nursing staff will assess that you are ready to leave and provide instructions. You will not be allowed to drive after the procedure; you should arrange for someone to accompany you home.

You may resume drinking when the anesthetic no longer causes numbness in your throat, unless instructed otherwise. You may resume eating the next day, but you may experience a mild sore throat.


  • Drive or operate mechanical equipment until the next day
  • Do not drink alcohol for at least 24 hours

A full report of the results will be sent to your personal physician, and biopsy results are usually available in 7-10 business days.


Esophageal dilation is a very low risk procedure, especially when conducted by a competent specialist. A perforation (tear) of the esophagus lining is rare, but may require surgery. There are also possible risks of side effects from the sedative. If you have chest pain, fever, trouble breathing, difficulty swallowing, bleeding or black bowel movements after the test, contact your physician immediately.

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