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Esophageal Dilation for GERD

If you have suffered from GERD or frequent acid reflux for a long period of time, your doctor may recommend you for esophageal dilation. Learn more about what’s involved with esophageal dilation and why your doctor may be suggesting it.

Why is your doctor recommending esophageal dilation?

Esophageal dilation is a procedure that helps widen parts of your esophagus that may have become narrow. In many cases, this narrowing occurs because scar tissue has built up along the walls of the esophagus. This scar tissue is most commonly caused by damage from frequent acid reflux.

Esophageal dilation may also be suggested if your esophagus has become more narrow due to cancer of the esophagus, scarring caused by radiation treatment, or other complications that have affected the structure of your esophagus.

How does esophageal dilation work?

You may be sedated or given a local anesthetic via throat spray before your procedure. A doctor will then insert a tube into your mouth and down into your esophagus. Next, your doctor will inflate a balloon or use plastic dilators to open up the space in your esophagus. Whatever method is used, esophageal dilation causes the opening of the esophageal tube to become wider by pushing very gently on the esophageal walls from the inside.

Are there any side effects of esophageal dilation?

The anesthetic used may cause temporary numbness in your throat, which might affect your ability to eat or drink immediately after your procedure. In very rare cases, a perforation may occur in the esophagus that needs to be corrected with surgery. Your doctor will let you know what signs of possible complications to watch for.

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