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Endoscopic Dilation of Pharyngoesophageal Strictures: There Are More Dimensions than a Diameter

Diana Martins, Sara Pires, Pedro Pimentel-Nunes, Rui Almeida Silva, Claúdia Camila Dias, Mário Dinis-Ribeiro
GE Portuguese Journal of Gastroenterology 2018, 25 (6): 291-298

Background/Aims: Dysphagia due to benign pharyngoesophageal strictures (PES) often requires repeated dilations; however, a uniform definition for the therapeutic efficacy of this technique has not been yet established. We aimed to assess the overall efficacy of endoscopic dilation of pharyngoesophageal anastomotic or post-radiotherapy (post-RT) strictures.

Methods: The data of 48 patients with post-RT ( n = 29) or anastomotic PES ( n = 19) submitted to endoscopic dilation during a 3-year period were retrospectively assessed. The Kochman criteria were used to determine refractoriness and recurrence. Patients were asked to answer a questionnaire determining prospectively the dilation program efficacy as (a) dysphagia improvement, (b) dysphagia resolution, (c) need for further dilations, or (d) percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) during the previous 6 months. Need for additional therapy was considered an inefficacy criterion.

Results: The median number of dilations per patient was 4 (total of 296 dilations) with a median follow-up of 29 months. The mean predilation dysphagia Mellow-Pinkas score was 3 and the initial stenosis diameter was 7 mm. Fifteen and 29% of patients presented with the Kochman criteria for refractory and recurrent strictures, respectively. Moreover, 96 and 60% showed dysphagia improvement and resolution, respectively. Seventy-five-percent did not require dilations during 6 months, and 89% did not require PEG. From the patients' perspective, overall efficacy was achieved in 58% of cases. Nine additional therapies were required. Number of dilations (OR 0.7), stricture diameter (OR 2.2), and nonrecurrence criteria (OR 14.2) appeared as significant predictors of overall efficacy, whereas refractory stenosis criteria did not.

Conclusions: Endoscopic dilation seems to be effective for patients with dysphagia after RT or surgery, especially when assessed as patient perception of improvement. Narrow strictures, recurrent ones, and strictures requiring a higher number of dilations may predict worse outcomes.

Key Message: Health professionals should establish well-defined efficacy criteria for dilations and base their decision beyond exclusively objective measurements.


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