Background and study aims: In 1981, the authors introduced balloon catheter dilation for postoperative gastric outlet stenosis and later for peptic, corrosive and postvagotomy gastric outlet stenosis. This retrospective study evaluates the effectiveness, safety and outcome of balloon catheter dilation in these various indications. Patients and methods: Between September 1981 and September 2001, 177 balloon catheter dilation procedures were carried out in 72 patients with benign stenoses. Double-lumen or single-lumen balloon catheters with a mean diameter of 18 mm (range 12-25 mm) were used. Endoscopic check-up examinations were carried out 1-3 weeks later, and then after three, six and 12 months, or if symptoms returned. The mean follow-up period for patients who did not undergo surgery was 98 months (range 12-240 months). Results: Symptomatic relief was obtained immediately in 80% and after 3 months or more in 70% of the patients. The mean diameter of the stenoses was 6 mm (2.0-9.5 mm) before dilation and 16mm (10-20mm) afterwards. Gastric retention was observed in 49 patients (68%) before dilation and in 19 patients (26.4%) afterward. Sixteen patients had recurrent stenosis 1-18 months after the first dilation. All of the 18 postoperative strictures, 21 (70%) of the 30 peptic stenoses, six (35%) of the 17 patients with corrosive strictures, and five of the six patients with postvagotomy functional stenosis were successfully treated with dilation. Pyloric perforation occurred in two cases, and arterial hemorrhage was observed in one case after dilation. Conclusions: Balloon catheter dilation is an important and effective diagnostic and therapeutic method; depending on the causative factor, it can make surgery unnecessary in nearly 70% of patients with benign gastric outlet stenosis.
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