OBJECTIVE: Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is accepted as the most accurate modality for T- and N-staging of esophageal cancer, but some malignant strictures prevent passage of the echoendoscope beyond the level of the tumor. This incomplete evaluation may decrease staging accuracy. Previous studies have yielded conflicting results regarding the safety and efficacy of esophageal dilation for EUS. METHODS: We prospectively evaluated 267 consecutive patients undergoing EUS for esophageal carcinoma staging at our institution over a 66-month period to determine the number of patients requiring dilation for EUS examination, the success of dilation, safety of dilation, and clinical importance. RESULTS: Among 267 endosonographic examinations of the esophagus, 81(30.3%) required dilation to advance the echoendoscope beyond the level of the stricture. After dilation was performed, the echoendoscope could be passed through the stricture in 69 patients (85.2%), and in 63 of 67 of the patients dilated to ≥14 mm (94.0%). No complications have occurred secondary to the dilations performed to permit completion of the endosonographic examination. Tumor staging by EUS after dilation was T2 (14.8%), T3 (56.8%), and T4 (21.0%), nodal staging NO (14.6%) and N1 (75.3%); and MI (9.9%). CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that incremental, stepwise dilation of malignant strictures to 14 mm is safe and effective in permitting echoendoscope passage beyond the stenosis. The presence of a malignant stricture does not seem to diminish the utility of EUS staging of esophageal cancer. (C) 2000 by Am. Coll. of Gastroenterology.
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