Review article: oesophageal dilation in adults with eosinophilic oesophagitis

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Apr;33(7):748-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04593.x. Epub 2011 Feb 14.


Background: Eosinophilic oesophagitis is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the oesophagus, characterised by the proton pump inhibitor-refractory accumulation of eosinophils in the oesophageal epithelium (>15 intraepithelial eosinophils/high powered field). Adults present with solid food dysphagia and recurrent food impactions. Oesophageal remodelling produces the characteristic endoscopic feature of adult eosinophilic oesophagitis including strictures, rings and a narrow calibre oesophagus.

Aim: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of oesophageal dilation as the initial therapy for adults with eosinophilic oesophagitis.

Methods: Medline search from 1975 to November 2010 for all reports of the treatment of patients with eosinophilic oesophagitis using search words: eosinophilic oesophagitis treatment, dilation and eosinophilic oesophagitis, steroids and eosinophilic oesophagitis.

Results: Our systematic review found that 92% of patients treated with oesophageal dilation had improvement in their dysphagia symptoms for up to 1-2 years. Three case series clearly showed clinical resolution of dysphagia symptoms, independent of the degree of eosinophil infiltration, which was unchanged after dilation. Postprocedure pain for several days is common, due to some degree of mucosal tear, but true perforation very rare (<0.1%).

Conclusions: Oesophageal dilation is an acceptable option for healthy adult eosinophilic oesophagitis patients with anatomic narrowing, possibly followed by a course of topical steroids to reduce inflammation and retard remodelling. Future studies should include a head-to-head comparison of topical steroids and oesophageal dilation, bougie vs through-the-scope balloon dilation and maintenance topical steroids compared with on-demand treatment.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Dilatation / methods*
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome