Balloon dilatation of the pylorus for delayed gastric emptying after esophagectomy

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Delayed gastric emptying after esophageal operations occurs in up to 50% of patients. A good quality of life, in long-term survivors after esophagectomy, may depend on both dietary adaptation and the improvement of intrathoracic gastric motility itself. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of pyloric balloon dilatation on the sustained delay of gastric emptying after esophagectomy.


Two hundred and fifty-seven patients underwent esophagectomy with a gastric conduit from January 2003 to December 2006. A gastric drainage procedure was routinely performed during the esophagectomy. The intrathoracic gastric emptying of solid food was evaluated by radioisotope imaging. A 50% gastric emptying time over 180 min was defined as delayed. We assessed the changes of the intrathoracic gastric emptying time, and the symptoms after balloon dilatation of the pylorus, associated with delayed gastric emptying.


Balloon dilatation of the pylorus was performed in 21 patients (8%) who had sustained symptoms of delayed gastric emptying after esophagectomy for esophageal cancer despite the use of prokinetics. The symptoms associated with delayed gastric emptying were improved after balloon dilatation of the pylorus in all patients. Pyloric balloon dilatation was performed twice in two patients. In seven of 19 patients (37%), who had a follow-up gastric emptying study, the delayed gastric emptying rate for 180 min was improved from 30% to 88%. Six patients had slightly improved results, and six patients had no increase in the rate of gastric emptying compared with the previous gastric emptying study.


After balloon dilatation of the pylorus, two thirds of patients with delayed gastric emptying show increased rates of gastric emptying as measured by radioisotope imaging. Mechanical balloon dilatation of the pylorus is a useful method to treat sustained delay of intrathoracic gastric emptying after esophagectomy.

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