In order to stretch and/or widen your esophagus, your doctor will need to perform a procedure called “esophageal dilation.” This procedure may also accompany an endoscopy when you will be sedated.
The esophagus is a tube that carries liquids and food from your mouth to your stomach. The procedure becomes necessary when it’s difficult for you to swallow because of an obstruction. Most people experience this narrowing because acid reflux from frequent heartburn caused scarring in the esophagus. When scarring exists, swallowing becomes difficult, and people feel as if food is in their chests. The sensation is very uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Cancerous tumors and scarring due to radiation therapy are less common causes of an esophageal stricture or narrowing.
The esophageal dilation procedure is performed with an upper endoscopy and you will be sedated before the procedure begins. Your physician will then pass the instrument into your mouth and down your throat. Patients are able to continue breathing normally during the procedure. Once inside the esophagus, your doctor will dilate the constricted area with either a dilating balloon or a plastic dilator. You shouldn’t feel any pain, but you may feel slight pressure.
Most likely, you will only need to be observed for a short period of time after the procedure. You may be able to drink fluids directly after the anesthetic wears off. Most patients aren’t likely to experience any side effects from this procedure other than a mild sore throat. Then, you can return to getting back to the life you love.