Esophageal Dilatation

Sometimes a child or adolescent can develop a stricture (narrowing) in the esophagus (swallowing tube) that requires dilatation (stretching) to allow for easy passage of food and liquids. There are several ways of dilating the esophagus. One method is to use a series of flexible dilators of increasing thickness called bougies. These are passed down through the esophagus one at a time starting with a thin bougie that can pass through the narrowed area; as the size of the bougie increases, it stretches the strictured area. A second method is using a balloon dilator.  This may be done in Interventional Radiology by one of the radiologists. Under x-ray guidance, a catheter with a balloon is placed through the area of narrowing; the balloon is then inflated which stretches the stricture.