Sean C. Lai, MD -  - Primary Care Physician

Sean C. Lai, MD

Primary Care Physician & Gastroenterologist located in Santa Monica, CA

Esophageal Dilation

Narrowing of the esophagus can cause significant problems with digestion and other functions. Dr. Sean Lai uses esophageal dilation to help men and women in the Santa Monica, CA, area resolve their condition so they can achieve greater comfort when eating , drinking and throughout the day.

Esophageal Dilation Q & A

by Sean C. Lai, MD

What is esophageal dilation?

Esophageal dilation is a medical procedure that opens or stretches narrowed areas of the esophagus, the tube your food uses to travel from the mouth to the stomach. Often, esophageal dilation is performed as part of an endoscopic procedure under sedation, but it may also be performed by passing a dilating tool into the esophagus after coating your throat with an anesthetic.

When is esophageal dilation needed?

Esophageal dilation is most commonly performed in patients whose esophagus becomes scarred after a prolonged period of chronic acid reflux. Continual irritation by stomach acid can cause scar tissue to form at the lower end of the esophagus, making it rigid and inflexible so that it cannot expand and stretch when food passes. Other causes for esophageal narrowing include esophageal cancer, scarring following radiation, swallowing disorders and growth of excess rings of tissue. Patients typically experience trouble swallowing including an uncomfortable sensation that food is “stuck.”

What can I expect following the esophageal dilation procedure?

Once the procedure is complete, you'll be in recovery for a brief period for observation while the sedative wears off. Once the anesthetic used to numb your throat has worn off, you'll be able to resume eating and drinking unless Dr. Lai advises otherwise. Try drinking slowly at first to make sure the anesthetic has completely worn off before eating any solid foods. Your throat may feel scratchy or sore for a few hours after the procedure and your voice may be hoarse. Because you'll be sedated for the procedure, you'll need someone to drive you home afterward.

What are the potential complications of the procedure?

Complications associated with esophageal dilation are extremely rare, but may include perforation of the esophageal lining that may require surgical correction.


Major Insurance Plans Accepted

Below is a short list of the insurance plans we accept. If you do not see your insurance on the list, feel free to call our office. We also offer very reasonable discounted packages for patients who do not have insurance coverage.

  • Aetna
  • Blue Cross
  • Blue Shield
  • Cigna
  • First Health (Coventry Health Care)
  • Great West Life
  • GWH-Cigna (formerly Great West Healthcare)
  • Health Net
  • Humana
  • Medicare
  • Oxford (UnitedHealthcare)
  • Tricare
  • United Food and Commercial Worker
  • UnitedHealthcare
Blue Cross
Blue Shield
First Health (Coventry Health Care)
Great West Life
GWH-Cigna (formerly Great West Healthcare)
Health Net
Oxford (UnitedHealthcare)
Lai, Sean C., MD 2001 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 1286W Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: 310-453-0553
Fax: 310-943-2776
Office Hours