Successful Esophageal Dilation of Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) Patients With a Previous Postdilation Complication: Start Low and Go Slow

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Esophageal dilation is an effective and safe treatment option for fibrostenotic eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). Despite the safety, adverse events occur, yet there is scarce literature on the best treatment postcomplications.


Patients with diagnosis of EoE (≥15 eosinophils per high-power field) from 2011 to 2015 treated at our center were included. Thirty patients with fibrostenotic disease had records available regarding serial dilation therapy. Eight patients previously experienced complications by outside providers. Groups were created based on history of complication before our dilation versus a group without. Mean difference and odds ratio with 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated.


There were 8 complications, 7 occurred during dilation and 1 during passage of the endoscope. Esophageal diameter at initial dilation was lower in patients with prior complications 9.0±1.51 versus 11.73±2.98 mm (95% CI: −4.44, −1.02; P=0.003). However, end-esophageal diameter was similar across both groups 15.8±1.8 versus 16.1±2.0 mm. Total number of dilation sessions: 4.0±1.8 versus 2.32±1.0 (95% CI: 0.17, 3.19; P=0.03), as well as sessions to reach 17 mm diameter 3.8±1.0 versus 2.3±1.0 (95% CI: −0.08, 2.89; P=0.04), were higher in the patients with complications. The length of time in months to reach an esophageal diameter of 17 mm was longer in patients with complications, but the difference was not statistically significant 3.50±0.6 versus 2.3±2.3 months (P=0.09).


Esophageal dilation is a safe and effective modality to treat severe fibrostenotic EoE in patients with prior history of complications. The keys to success are: (1) start with lower diameter bougies and (2) dilate slowly over a longer time course to reach targeted diameter and symptom resolution.

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