Strictures / Dilatation
Esophageal Dilatation is performed when a patient has difficulty swallowing. A common complaint from the patient is that of food “sticking” upon swallowing and possibly not going down into the stomach very easily. This complaint needs the care of a Gastroenterologist who can help the patient so this problem does not become an emergency. There are several possible causes of this complaint, and most frequently seen is a stricture of the Esophagus. This is a narrowing in the “swallowing tube.” It is a separate place from where the patient takes air into his or her lungs. During upper endoscopy, the Gastroenterologist is able to look down into the swallowing tube by first sedating the patient, and then passing a soft flexible tube (endoscope), into the esophagus. By direct visualization, the doctor can usually tell if there is a narrowing that needs treatment. While the patient is still asleep, the narrowing can be stretched by passing a balloon or a dilator down to the narrowed location. This will stretch the narrowed part of the esophagus, and let the patient swallow normally again. In some cases this procedure needs to be repeated at some point in the future. This is generally a painless procedure and may give instant relief from the original complaint.
The colon, or large intestine, can also develop a stricture, or narrowing after surgery which may need to be stretched. This happens at the place where one side of the colon was connected to the other side during surgery. A patient who has this narrowing will complain of constipation, and need therapy from a Gastroenterologist, who will perform a therapeutic Colonoscopy. During Colonoscopy, the patient is sedated and a soft flexible tube is passed into the colon from the rectum. The doctor can then pass a Dilator Balloon (made for treatment of this problem) through the Colonoscope to the stricture. While the patient is still sedated, the narrowing will be stretched, resulting in easier passage of stool along the colon and resolution of the constipation.