Balloon dilation is a minimally invasive procedure which addresses narrowing of the airway, throat and esophagus. This procedure is performed with the patient awake without need for an IV.
Patients with subglottic stenosis, tracheal stenosis, and esophageal stenosis may be candidates for an in-office dilation. Initially endoscopy is performed to assess the degree and type of narrowing. A patient’s nasal cavity, throat and airway is numbed using topical anesthetics such as lidocaine. The balloon is then inflated and expands the stenotic area. Typically the balloon sits inflated for one-three minutes.
An endoscope is inserted through the nose and advanced to the area of narrowing. A deflated balloon is advanced through the stenosis. Controlled expansion of the balloon is performed, with a view via the endoscope used to confirm expansion. Often two or three expansions are performed at one setting to serially increase the size of the narrowing.
For those who are not candidates for in-office balloon dilation, similar procedures can be performed in the operating room with the patient asleep.
Today, in the 21st century, improvements in anesthesia medication and delivery, and state of the art imaging products using high-defintion technology allow for examination of the larynx in ways never before possible. This along with small lasers and improved equipment allow laryngologists to perform surgeries in office that once required general anesthesia. This is one of the most exciting advancements in all of medicine over the last ten years.