Background: The optimum choice of dilator (rigid vs. balloon) for benign esophageal strictures has not been well studied. The aim of this study was to compare the immediate relief of dysphagia and the incidence of repeat dilatation within the first year with the use of either a rigid (Savary) dilator or balloon dilator for benign lower esophageal strictures. Methods: Patients with dysphagia found to have benign esophageal strictures during endoscopy were randomized to undergo dilation with a rigid (Savary) or a balloon dilator (Microvasive or Bard). The 1-year incidence of repeat dilatation was estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method. Results: A total of 251 subjects were stratified at entry according to the type of stricture (peptic vs. Schatzki ring) and severity of stricture (mild vs. moderate/severe) and then randomized to either a Savary (n=88), Microvasive (n=81), or Bard (n=82) dilator. There were no significance differences between the rigid dilator or the two balloons with regard to immediate relief of dysphagia or the need for repeat dilatation at one year. Patients with moderate/severe strictures required repeat dilatation at one year twice as often as those with mild strictures. There were no significant complications reported in these patients. Conclusions: Both rigid and balloon dilators are equally effective and safe in the treatment of benign lower esophageal strictures caused by acid reflux and Schatzki rings.
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