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Am J Gastroenterol. 2010 May;105(5):1062-70. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.657. Epub 2009 Nov 24.

Esophageal dilation in eosinophilic esophagitis: effectiveness, safety, and impact on the underlying inflammation.

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Farncombe Family Institute of Digestive Health Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



Esophageal dilation often leads to long-lasting relief of dysphagia in eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). The aim of this study was to define the effectiveness, safety, and patient acceptance of esophageal dilation in EoE. In addition, we examined the influence of dilation on the underlying esophageal inflammation.


Two databases including 681 EoE patients were reviewed. Cohort 1 consisted of patients treated with dilation alone, whereas cohort 2 included patients treated with a combination of dilation and antieosinophilic medication. Patients from cohort 1 underwent a prospective histological reexamination and an evaluation using a questionnaire.


In total, 207 EoE patients were treated with esophageal dilation, 63 in cohort 1 and 144 in cohort 2. Dilation led to a significant increase in esophageal diameter and to an improvement in dysphagia in both the cohorts (P<0.001). After dilation, dysphagia recurred after 23+/-22 months in cohort 1 and 20+/-14 months in cohort 2. No esophageal perforation or major bleeding occurred. Among the patients surveyed, 74% reported retrosternal pain after dilation; however, all were agreeable to repeated dilation if required. Eosinophil peak infiltration, eosinophil load, and EoE-associated histological signs were not significantly affected by esophageal dilation.


Esophageal dilation is highly effective in providing long-lasting symptom relief and can be performed safely with a high degree of patient acceptance. However, dilation is associated with postprocedural pain in most patients and does not influence the underlying inflammatory process. Symptom improvement despite persistence of inflammation suggests that tissue remodeling contributes substantially to symptom generation in EoE.

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