Throat Stretching Procedure

Esophageal narrowing can cause malnutrition, breathing problems and death. Throat stretching is a life-saving procedure that can help with this condition. Knowing how the procedure is performed and the benefits it has to offer can help you decide if throat stretching is right for you. Talk to your physician if you feel your esophagus is narrow, and explore therapy options.

A woman is talking to her doctor about her throat. (Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images)


Throat stretching is a procedure that involves your physician stretching a narrowed area of your esophagus. It is referred to as esophageal dilation. The procedure can be performed under sedation or may use local spray anesthetic on the back of your throat.

Causes of Esophageal Narrowing

According to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, reflux of stomach acid commonly leads to scarring of the esophagus. This scarring can cause narrowing of the throat and make swallowing difficult. Other causes of esophageal narrowing include thin layers of excess tissue, esophageal cancer, scarring due to radiation or a disorder of the esophageal motility.

Schatzki's Ring is a condition that causes narrowing of the ring of benign fibrous tissue constricting the lower esophagus. The source of this condition has not been determined. Achalasia is an uncommon condition that causes the lower esophageal muscle to spasm and stops food and liquids from passing through.

What to Expect

Your doctor might perform esophageal dilation with sedation along with an upper endoscopy. An endoscope may then be passed through your mouth and into your esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Your breathing will not be interfered with and a dilating balloon or plastic dilators may be used over a guiding wire to stretch your esophagus. This procedure will cause a mild pressure in the back of your throat or in your chest.

If your doctor chooses to use a local anesthetic, he will spray the back of your throat and pass a tapered dilating instrument through your mouth, which will guide it into your esophagus. X-rays may be used during the esophageal dilation procedure.


The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy states that, as with any procedure, throat stretching carries health risks. A small amount of bleeding is expected at the stretching site, but there is a risk of excessive bleeding that will require treatment and evaluation. Tearing of the esophagus is a less common, but serious, complication. You may require an operation to repair an esophageal tear.

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