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Original research
Pneumatic dilation for persistent dysphagia after antireflux surgery, a multicentre single-blind randomised sham-controlled clinical trial


Objective There is no evidence-based treatment for persistent dysphagia after laparoscopic fundoplication. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of pneumatic dilation on persistent dysphagia after laparoscopic fundoplication.

Design We performed a multicentre, single-blind, randomised sham-controlled trial of patients with persistent dysphagia (>3 months) after laparoscopic fundoplication. Patients with an Eckardt symptom score ≥4 were randomly assigned to pneumatic dilation (PD) using a 35 mm balloon or sham dilation. Primary outcome was treatment success, defined as an Eckardt score <4 and a minimal reduction of 2 points in the Eckardt score after 30 days. Secondary outcomes included change in stasis on timed barium oesophagogram, change in high-resolution manometry parameters and questionnaires on quality of life, reflux and dysphagia symptoms.

Results Forty-two patients were randomised. In the intention-to-treat analysis, the success rates of PD (7/21 patients (33%)) and sham dilation (8/21 patients (38%)) were similar after 30 days (risk difference −4.7% (95% CI (−33.7% to 24.2%) p=0.747). There was no significant difference in change of stasis on the timed barium oesophagogram after 2 min (PD vs sham: median 0.0 cm, p25–p75 range 0.0–4.3 cm vs median 0.0 cm, p25–p75 range 0.0–0.0; p=0.122) or change in lower oesophageal sphincter relaxation pressure (PD vs sham: 10.54±6.25 vs 14.60±6.17 mm Hg; p=0.052). Quality of life, reflux and dysphagia symptoms were not significantly different between the two groups.

Conclusion Pneumatic dilation with a 35 mm balloon is not superior to sham dilation for the treatment of persistent dysphagia after fundoplication.

  • gastro-esophageal reflux disease
  • dysphagia
  • anti-reflux surgery
  • lower oesophageal sphincter

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplemental information.

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