Esophageal Self Dilation Therapy: An Effective Alternative

Jan 8, 2019 | Kanaaz Pereira, Connect Moderator | @kanaazpereira | Comments (5)

Many patients have difficulty swallowing due to narrowing of the esophagus. Benign esophageal strictures can be challenging to treat, with the main treatment being endoscopic dilations. Often, repeated upper endoscopies are required to maintain successful swallowing. These procedures are costly and their efficacy can be short-lived. Gastroenterologists at Mayo Clinic offer a more convenient and effective method that may lessen the frustrations and challenges of repeated endoscopies–esophageal self dilation therapy or ESDT.

Esophageal self-dilation involves teaching the patient how to dilate their esophagus orally, on a routine basis with the help of a simple medical device–a polyvinyl dilator. Besides being successful, researchers also found that ESDT could lead to the removal of feeding tubes that were previously required to get food into the gastrointestinal tract.

Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, Dr. Magnus Halland, M.D., encourages patients with swallowing difficulties due to narrowing of the esophagus, to visit Mayo Clinic to see if they may be candidates to learn ESDT. Dr. Halland also talks about the open clinical trial linked to ESDT at Mayo Clinic.

Meet other people talking about esophageal disorders on Mayo Clinic Connect. Here are some discussions you might like to view–join the conversation, share experiences, ask questions, and discover your support network...

My husband will be having this done for the 2nd time. We cannot imagine this being done by anyone except a professional and under anesthesia.


My husband will be having this done for the 2nd time. We cannot imagine this being done by anyone except a professional and under anesthesia.

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Best wishes for your husband. It is fortunately only a small group of patients who simply don't stay open very long after endoscopic dilatations done under anesthesia. In such patients, many of whom have undergone 10 or more endoscopies, we teach self-dilation, which helps maintain the opening which has recently been achieved during an endoscopic procedure.


3 years ago I started having problems with food getting 'stuck' – at times it wouldn't go down my esophagus and would eventually come back up. It gets better at times and worse at others.

In the last 6 months I have had difficulty breathing, feeling like it is difficult to get air down my throat. I'm starting to panic a little, worried that I will suffocate. Sometimes it seems mostly ok, at others I feel a complete restriction on air intake may occur. In the last month it has gotten especially bad.

I have many symptoms of hypothyroidism and a family history of it, so a nodule or other related obstruction may be the cause. I also have acid reflux issues and a family history of GERD, so perhaps that is it. Maybe it is something else…

I lost my insurance after a lay off a few years ago. I have a new job but no insurance for now. I do not have much money. I cannot afford to go to a doctor. Is there a way by which I can get the dilator needed to do this at home?

I'm getting desperate and was thinking of trying to construct something to do this in an emergency, which is how I found this article. I am in the Northern suburbs of Dallas, TX.


My wife could benefit from this type of treatment. We do not live in the area of any of the participating clinics. How could we go about getting something like this for her?


I am very interested in this. I found your video on YouTube while trying to see if there are any new developments in this surgery or condition. I have had the dilation done about 5 times within 17 to 33yrs old. The last time being about 4 years ago and I can’t stand the choking much longer. Iv been toughing it out but this year I broke my hand so I’ve maxed out my deductible and would like it done again.
I live in Utah so I’m not close to your clinic. Is there any advice you could give or point me towards?

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