A stent is a hollow tube made from metal or plastic that is used as a support structure to keep an obstructed area of the body open. Enteral stents are used within the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract (esophagus, stomach, and upper part of small intestine or duodenum) and lower GI tract (colon and rectum). They are most often used because of obstructions caused by tumors.
Esophageal stents involve a tube placed in your esophagus to keep open a blocked area and help you swallow solids and liquids. Colon stents may be used in colon cancer patients prior to surgery to remove a tumor. The stent reduces pressure in the bowel and allows better preparation, making surgery safer and improving the outcome. In both cases, stents can be placed in cancer patients who are not undergoing surgery in order to relieve symptoms.
- Esohageal Stent: The procedure is usually performed under monitored anesthesia care or general anesthesia. During the procedure the physician places a long, thin tube (catheter) down the back of your mouth into your esophagus. A folded hollow tube (stent) is placed over the catheter in the correct position across the blockage. The stent then expands against the walls of your esophagus, giving support. The catheter is removed, leaving the stent in place.
- Colon Stent: A colonoscope is inserted into the rectum to view the blockage. Once the blockage is found, a soft wire will be placed across the blockage. When the wire is correctly positioned a thin tube with the stent at the end is placed over the wire. As with a colonoscopy, you'll be placed under monitored anesthesia for the procedure.
- Esophageal Stent: Occasional complications can include pain in the esophagus, mild bleeding, perforation (rarely), movement of the stent, and gastroesophageal reflux. There is also a risk that one of these complications could cause you to need a repeat procedure.
- Colon Stent: Perforation can occur with placement of a colonic stent. This is a rare complication. You may experience bowel bleeding for a couple of days after the procedure. Let your doctor know if the bleeding does not subside after two days