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Esophageal Balloon Dilator

This is a short video that demonstrates one kind of balloon dilator that we often use to stretch a narrow spot in the esophagus, or esophageal stricture. Some patients develop trouble swallowing - especially solid foods like bread and meat. This can be a warning sign of cancer, but is most often due to a build-up of scar tissue in the esophagus after years of heartburn.

In the past, treatment of this condition would have required major chest surgery with a long and painful recovery. Now we can dilate most esophageal strictures with this balloon during a brief outpatient gastroscopy examination. Here you see the balloon outside the body to illustrate how it is inflated and expanded with saline. Normally, the deflated balloon is passed down through the center of the gastroscope and positioned across the narrowed esophageal segment. As the balloon is inflated, it pushes the walls outward - dilating the stricture.

Esophageal balloon dilation is quite similar to an angioplasty of the heart where a blocked coronary artery is dilated with a tiny balloon catheter. Of course, esophageal dilators are much larger ranging from 10 mm to 20 mm in diameter. (Balloon dilators are often sized using the "French" (F) scale which approximates the circumference of the expanded balloon. To convert, multiply the diameter in millimeters by three. So, a 20 mm diameter catheter equals 60F.)

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Three Rivers Endoscopy Scope Cam

Esophageal Balloon Dilator


Text & Images Courtesy of Three Rivers Endoscopy Center
© Dr. Robert Fusco, Three Rivers Endoscopy Center, All Rights Reserved

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