INFORMATION FOR PEOPLE WITH THE CONDITION
Widening of the oesophagus for the treatment of eosinophilic oesophagitis
How effective is oesophageal dilation?
Dilation is performed in the case of scarred narrowing that causes discomfort, which cannot be eliminated by medication alone.
This stretching treatment can increase the diameter of a narrowed oesophagus. During an oesophageal endoscopy (investigation using a flexible tube with image transmission), the oesophagus is either dilated by means of inflatable balloons or by means of cone-shaped plastic stents (of increasing diameter) that are pushed over a guidewire.
Such widening (or dilation) takes about ten minutes and is performed under sedation (twilight state without general anaesthesia). During the procedure, the scars that narrow the oesophagus are mechanically stretched. However, this does not treat the inflammation underlying the narrowing. As a result, over time there will probably be further narrowing, which will then have to be widened again.
What are the possible side effects of oesophageal dilation?
After treatment, approximately half of patients report pain upon swallowing, which usually lasts for two to three days and can be easily treated with conventional painkillers. The risk of complications, in particular of a tear (perforation) of the oesophagus, is less than 1 %.
How often can the oesophagus be dilated?
The oesophagus can be widened repeatedly. However, the mechanical action of widening does not treat the causes of EoE, but only alleviates its consequences. Depending on the course of events, EoE patients must undergo dilation of this kind up to once a year unless the chronic inflammation of the oesophagus is additionally treated with medication or diet.