Transnasal balloon dilation of the esophagus

Catherine J Rees, Taylor Fordham, Peter C Belafsky
Archives of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery 2009, 135 (8): 781-3

OBJECTIVE: To describe the safety of transnasal balloon dilation of the esophagus.

DESIGN: Retrospective case series.

SETTING: Two tertiary care institutions.

PATIENTS: All patients undergoing transnasal balloon dilation of the esophagus.


RESULTS: Fifty-four transnasal esophageal balloon dilations were performed in 38 patients. The mean age of the cohort was 65 years (range, 13-88 years). Twenty-nine patients were male (76%). Twenty procedures were performed using only topical anesthesia in the office setting. Seven patients (18%) were postlaryngectomy, and 15 patients (39%) had a history of head and neck radiation therapy. The upper esophageal sphincter (UES) was the most frequent dilation site (63%), followed by proximal/mid esophagus (26%), lower esophageal sphincter (LES) (7.4%), and both the UES and LES (3.7%). Indications included cricopharyngeal dysfunction, benign stricture, web, and Schatzki ring. Two procedures (3.7%) were aborted secondary to self-limited laryngospasm or gagging. There were no clinically significant complications.

CONCLUSIONS: Transnasal esophageal balloon dilation can be performed in unsedated or sedated patients with a very low complication rate. The procedure is well tolerated in 96% of patients. This technique, formerly available only through larger caliber oral gastroscopes and under sedation, allows for office-based esophageal balloon dilation in an otolaryngology practice.

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