Enteral Stent Placement/Removal
Enteral stenting is a nonsurgical outpatient procedure used to alleviate an obstruction caused by a cancerous tumor within the digestive tract, including the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract (esophagus, stomach, and upper part of small intestine or duodenum) and lower GI tract (colon and rectum).
A stent is a flexible, self-expandable, hollow metal or plastic tube that is used to help keep open an obstructed area of the GI tract that has been blocked by a late-stage malignant tumor.
Enteral stents are used to help the patient continue to eat or as a preparation for surgery. For many people with a tumor in their esophagus, stomach, or duodenum, the area may be narrowed and need to be enlarged to allow food to pass through.
In advanced esophageal, pancreatic, or colorectal cancer, doctors may recommend a stent when surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are no longer the best option. For patients with colon cancer who are going to have surgery to remove a tumor, stents can be used to facilitate bowel cleansing in preparation for surgery, which can help improve surgical outcomes.
Doctors also use enteral stenting to manage benign conditions such as leaks, fistulas, perforations, bleeding varices, and strictures or narrowings in the GI tract.
How to Prepare for Enteral Stent Placement
If the procedure will be done through the mouth, you should not eat or drink anything after midnight prior to the procedure.
If the procedure will be done through the rectum, you may receive an enema to clear the colon below the blocked area. Alternately, you may be instructed to undergo oral bowel prep if it is considered safe to do so.
Your doctor will let you know if or when you should adjust or stop any medications you take. Because you will be sedated, you will need someone to drive you home after the procedure.
What to Expect
Stents are placed during an upper endoscopy or a colonoscopy. When placing a stent within the upper GI tract (esophagus, stomach, or duodenum), the endoscope is inserted through the throat. A mouth guard will be placed to protect your teeth and gums. Your throat may also be numbed with a spray to calm the gag reflex.
You will lie on your left side and receive sedation through an IV line to relax you and make you feel drowsy. The doctor will use a balloon to expand the esophagus or duodenum if necessary and then place the stent to allow the area to stay open.
For stent placement in the colon, the endoscope is inserted through your anus into your rectum and colon. Air is pumped through the scope to inflate the colon so it is easier to see and the doctor can accurately place the stent.
Stent placement typically takes 15-45 minutes. After the procedure, you will be taken to the recovery room while the sedative wears off. You may experience temporary discomfort, such as sore throat (if you had an upper endoscopy) gas, bloating, or cramps.
You will need to follow a specific diet for a few days following the procedure. Your doctor will provide these instructions. He or she will also discuss any unexpected side effects that may occur and a plan to address them.
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