A self-expanding stent is installed when passage of food in the upper GI tract is constricted. This procedure is an important option especially for patients with an inoperable tumor in the esophagus. It is important the patient avoids palliative surgery as much as possible to minimize time spent at the hospital.
A stent is installed using a scope. The stent serves as a grating which expands when pushed out of its casing. Using X-ray, the stent is guided down a guide-wire. Because of tension in the metal wires, a larger opening is made through the tumor area. The stent is usually covered with a plastic membrane to keep the tumor tissue from growing in the openings of the metal grating.
- Stenosis – many patients with cancer in the esophagus or stomach have stenosis as the most prominent symptom and therefore do not receive nutrition orally. Endoscopic installation of a self-expanding stent enables most patients to obtain nutrition by mouth.
- Fistula – an esophago-tracheal fistula can be treated with a stent in both the esophagus and trachea. A fistula from the esophagus to the pleura can be covered with a stent in the esophagus. External drainage on the outside of the esophagus is usually necessary for healing to occur.
- The patient obtains nutrition orally