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If a patient has a blockage or obstruction, a stent is often used to keep the affected area of the body open. A stent is a hollow tube made of plastic or metal inserted into the area of the body that is affected. An enteral stent refers to a stent placement somewhere within the digestive tract—it could be placed in the esophagus, duodenum, or colon. Enteral stents are often used to open up an area where a cancerous tumor is growing to make the patient more comfortable or as part of preparation for surgery.
The majority of enteral stents placed are inserted because the patient has cancerous tumors that are causing a blockage or obstruction. In patients with diseases such as esophageal cancer, surgery may be the best option, particularly if the cancer is in its later stages. An enteral stent is placed as part of the preparation for the patient’s surgery.
An enteral stent may also be used to make the patient more comfortable. Depending on where the obstruction or blockage is, the patient may have trouble eating or discomfort, or both. A stent widens the area so that it’s easier for food to pass through.
A stent is also used to widen the digestive tract. It can also manage gastrointestinal problems, such as bleeding varices, fistulas, leaks, and perforation.
A stent is considered enteral if it is placed in the digestive tract. There are four main types of enteral stents: esophageal, duodenal and biliary, and colon stents.
You will need to do some preparation before an enteral stent procedure. Your physician needs to know the exact location of the obstruction and how large it is, and they will measure the stricture from end to end. In order to determine location and size, your gastroenterologist may perform one of several diagnostic tests, including endoscopy, fluoroscopy, a computed tomography (CT) scan, barium enema, or radiography.
Your doctor will also discuss your current medication list with you. Depending on the drug, your physician may advise you to stop taking it leading up to the procedure. Also, you will receive sedation, so ensure you have someone to drive you home the day of the insertion.
If your enteral stent is due to a colon or bowel obstruction, you may have to take prophylactic antibiotics. This helps lessen the chances of infection after the procedure. Depending on the obstruction, you may or may not need to take a laxative prep to clear the bowel before the procedure.
You will first be administered sedatives via an IV in your arm. An upper endoscope is used if an enteral stent is used to treat problems in the esophagus or upper part of the duodenum (small intestine). An upper endoscope is a long, thin tube inserted into the throat and can diagnose or treat conditions in the esophagus, stomach, and upper duodenum.
If the enteral stent placement is used to manage diseases of the colon, colonoscopy is used. Similar to endoscopy, a colonoscope is a long, thin tube inserted into the colon. It is often used for colon cancer screening, but it can also be used as therapeutic colonoscopy.
Your provider will use Through the Scope Placement (TTS Placement). Using the endoscope or colonoscope, your physician will locate the obstruction and insert a guidewire using the scope. The stent is then placed over the guidewire, ensuring that it perfectly matches the guidewire. Then, the stent is anchored in place using radial forces. The entire procedure takes about one hour.
After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery room, where you’ll be monitored as the sedatives wear off. For several hours afterward, you are only allowed to consume clear liquids. If you had an esophageal stent placement, your doctor will talk with you about the dietary changes you must make. Those with an esophageal stent can only eat soft foods, such as oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and applesauce.
There are some risks associated with enteral stent placement. The most important thing during the procedure is that the stent is perfectly positioned, otherwise, stent migration (movement) can lead to perforation and tears. Possible risks of enteral stent placement include:
More serious potential complications of enteral stent placement include:
Enteral stent placement overall is a safe procedure and can drastically improve a patient’s quality of life.
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