Clinical

Guidelines on the Use of Oesophageal Dilatation in Clinical Practice

S A Riley, S E A Attwood

Introduction

Oesophageal dilators or bougies have been used since the Middle Ages. Early bougies were made of natural materials and were used to disimpact food boluses by pushing them "blindly" into the stomach. The technique of oesophageal dilatation has evolved considerably in recent years. A range of purpose built dilators is now available, and with present day diagnostic techniques it is possible to select a dilator and dilatation technique appropriate to the clinical setting.

The relatively low morbidity and mortality of oesophageal dilatation has encouraged its widespread use. Despite this wealth of clinical experience however, the practice of oesophageal dilatation has been subject to surprisingly few controlled studies. The purpose of these guidelines is to highlight areas of good practice and promote the use of standardised protocols within and between centres.