Q&A: What Are the Risks of Esophagus Dilatations?

by Todd Eisner Patient Expert

My GERD has caused a narrowing in my esophagus that has caused difficulty swallowing, especially solids. I have undergone a few dilatations of my esophagus which has improved my symptoms. How often can I have the procedure, and does the risk increase each time?

While there is certainly a risk of perforation with a dilatation of the esophagus, that risk is very low. Some patients with narrowing of the esophagus require dilatation once and never again. Others become symptomatic and are dilated anywhere from every one to every three years. Rarely, patients require more frequent dilatations for periods of time, as often as every few weeks. Your doctor will not want to dilate you with more than three size dilators at any given session, but as long as the trauma from the dilatation is allowed to resolve over a few days to a week, the risk of subsequent dilatations will not be higher. You should check with your doctor to see what he feels comfortable doing.

Todd Eisner
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Todd Eisner

Todd wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Digestive Health.