Seventy one patients with benign oesophageal strictures were randomised to receive balloon or bougie dilatation. Sixty five patients were eligible for analysis. At the end of five months the balloon group had significantly more dysphagia and the calibre of the strictures in the balloon group had narrowed by a greater degree. The methods were equally safe and acceptable to patients. While the choice of the method of dilatation depends on the individual patient's needs and operator experience, bougie dilatation is more effective in reducing dysphagia and maintaining stricture patency.
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