Balloon dilation also called as pneumatic dilation is usually done at the time of fluoroscopy or endoscopy. During the endoscopic procedure, a balloon is inflated which dilates or enlarges the lumen of the esophagus at areas of narrowing. The narrow area of the esophagus is stretched or dilated.
When is it done?
Balloon dilation is a common process performed to detect esophageal disorders. The rates of success are proven to be very high in this procedure. The esophagus narrows as a result of stomach acid reflux in patients with heart burn. They have trouble swallowing and food feels stuck in the chest area causing chest discomfort and pain. Esophageal narrowing can also occur due to scarring of the esophagus after radiation treatment or layers of excessive tissue lining in the esophagus. The medical conditions in which this procedure can be performed are:
- Scleroderma esophagus
- Peptic stricture
- Esophageal cancer
- Schatzki rings
The procedure is usually conducted on an empty stomach with no intake of liquids or solids for six hours before the exam. Medications such as aspirin and anticoagulants may have to be adjusted prior to the procedure. The balloon dilation procedure may be done under sedation along with an endoscopy. The back of the throat may be sprayed with anesthesia to pass the endoscope through the mouth into the esophagus, stomach and the duodenum. The doctor will then use the balloon dilator to expand the swallowing tube. The procedure is virtually painless except for some slight pressure in the back of the throat or chest during the procedure. During the procedure the endoscope does not interfere with the breathing process.
After esophageal dilation
Patient is under observation for a short period of time after the dilation. Eating and drinking can be resumed once the anesthetic wears off. Potential side effects are minimal in this procedure.