How Much Does Esophageal Dilation Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 15, 2018

Esophageal dilation is a procedure performed to extend the opening in your esophagus in order for you to swallow easier.

This procedure will become necessary either due to an obstruction or because of acid reflux that has caused scarring inside the esophagus.  If this scarring were present, then swallowing, over time, could become more difficult, almost feeling as if food particles remained inside your chest.   Also, in some cases, excess tissue, often referred to as “rings,” could obstruct the esophagus, but this isn’t as common.

How much does esophageal dilation cost?

Without insurance, you’re looking at paying anywhere from $1,000 to as much as $3,000 for the complete esophageal dilation procedure if performed in an outpatient center.  The costs will depend on the complexity of the procedure, the doctor’s office, geographical location and inclusions in the bill.

The average charge to Medicare, as broken down by Healthgrove.com, ranged from $1,200 to $2,200.

According to Yourcommunityhospital.com, the price can range anywhere from $1,900 to $3,000.

One forum poster on boards.straightdope.com said that the treatment may cost around $2,000, but if the fee for the doctor and the anesthetist is included,  it could be more than $4,000.

For those who have health insurance, be sure to check with your insurance provider because as long as the procedure is deemed medically necessary, the patient will only be responsible for their co-pay and deductibles.  If you do not have insurance or want a new policy, eHealthInsurance.com allows you to browse through policies for free.

Esophageal dilation overview

Before the procedure begins, your physician will spray a local anesthetic before inserting a weighted dilator into your mouth.  If your procedure is performed along with an upper endoscopy, which is often is, then you will be sedated before the procedure begins as well.  As the instrument passes through your throat, your doctor will be able to dilate the affected area with a dilating balloon or a plastic dilator, and during this time, most patients don’t report feeling any pain, only slight pressure.  Once the instrument is where it needs to be, your doctor will then begin to anesthetize your throat, dilating your esophagus in meantime.  If an endoscopy is done at the same time, the doctor will be able to view your esophagus on a monitor via a flexible, slim tube.

After the procedure is done, you will be able to leave that day and return to your daily activities; however, you will be asked to bring along someone to help drive you home.  You will be able to resume drinking fluids once the anesthetic wears off unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

In most cases, you won’t feel any side effects; however, some report feeling a mild sore throat, difficulty swallowing, a fever and/or chest pain.

The entire procedure will last 15 minutes.

What are the extra costs?

This procedure can also accompany an endoscopy, according to Manhattan Gastroenterology.  If so, this could add another $500 to $1,800 to the estimates mentioned above.

General anesthesia will be used in some cases, and this could increase the costs by as much as $1,500.

Depending on your circumstances, your doctor may want to take x-rays while dilating your esophagus.  This may or may not be included in your initial estimate.

In some cases, you may need the procedure again in the future if the first session didn’t expand fully.  It’s not uncommon for some patients to experience these sessions several times to expand your esophagus in smaller increments.

If your narrowing were due to acid reflux, then your physician may prescribe acid-suppressing medications to prevent this from happening in the future.

Tips to know:

Before your surgery, your doctor will ask you to avoid eating and drinking six hours prior.  Always ask your doctor how long you should fast before you show up the day of surgery.

What to expect after esophageal dilation

Immediately after the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery room where the staff will monitor your progress.  In general, they will want to make sure your gag reflex is working as it should.

When you’re able to go home, you will be asked to rest when you go home and slowly return to your normal diet.  You may not be able to eat solid foods for the next 24 hours.  You will also be advised to avoid alcohol.

Be prepared to have a sore throat for the next day or so.

Reasons you may need esophageal dilation

Acid Peptic Stricture

This condition is very common. The stomach produces acid which, in turn, can reflux into the esophagus. This event is usually made worse by the presence of a hiatus hernia. Over time, the acid and peptic stomach juices injure the esophagus, causing inflammation and then scarring. The fibrous scar then contracts and narrows the esophageal opening.

Schatzki’s Ring

This condition is exactly that — a narrow ring of benign fibrous tissue constricting the lower esophagus. Physicians still do not know how it develops.

Achalasia

This condition is uncommon and quite fascinating to physicians. The problem is a persistent and marked spasm of the lower esophageal muscle. This spasm does not open up to allow food and fluid through. The result is a persistent blockage with a slow trickling of esophageal contents into the stomach.

Ingestion of Caustic Agents

Children are particularly prone to swallowing liquid lye and other agents which can severely burn the esophagus, leaving it narrowed.

Tumors

Various forms of tumors, benign and malignant, can block the esophagus. This condition is obviously very important to diagnose and treat promptly.

Heredity

The esophagus may be partially or completely blocked at birth.ations for this?

How can I save money?

If you don’t have insurance, ask your doctor’s office or the hospital’s finance department if they offer any cash discounts.


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Average Reported Cost: $20000

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Less Expensive $1 $1.5K $3K $5K $6.5K More Expensive $8k

How much did you spend?

Was it worth it?  

  1. Indi (Johnson City,  Tennessee) paid $20000 and said:

    I’ve yet to have it done but was told by the doctor in the ER it would be 2 procedures each about 20,000$. That was a few years ago. I’ve struggled with no having it done since. If it really is as amazingly low as 4,000 I’d say it’d be worth it without question.

    Was it worth it? Yes

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