Gastrointestinal Stent

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Esophagus, stomach and bowel obstruction treatment due to cancer no longer needs to be a traditional surgical procedure. For many patients, blockages can be treated by inserting a flexible tube at the site of the obstruction that pushes tumors aside. This allows food, fluid and waste to move more freely through the digestive system.

Gastrointestinal blockages, which also can result from pancreatic cancer, can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting and severe abdominal pain. The blockages also can become life threatening.

Placing a stent — similar to the devices used to treat heart conditions — via endoscope has proven a successful alternative to surgery in over 90% of cases where it has been used. It is performed while you are under sedation, and you’ll likely go home the same day as your procedure.

The stent, a short, mesh tube, is placed with an endoscope guided by your physician to the precise area of the blockage as real-time images are transmitted to a monitor. Then the stent is passed through the endoscope and expanded, opening the narrowed area of the gastrointestinal tract.

The stent holds open the area of the gastrointestinal tract that that had been blocked. Once it is placed, the stent expands to a diameter of about an inch.

Board-certified and fellowship-trained gastroenterologists at Norton Healthcare Gastroenterology have been precisely placing gastrointestinal stents with endoscopy for years.

Preparing for Gastrointestinal Stent Placement

Your physician will provide you with instructions you will need to follow in the days before your procedure. Following these instructions is essential to limit surgery risks and provide the best results.

Make sure your providers are aware of all medications that you are taking, especially the following:

  • Plavix (clopidogrel)
  • Effient (prasugrel)
  • Brilinta (ticagrelor)
  • Ticlid (ticlopidine)
  • Coumadin (warfarin)
  • Eliquis (apixaban)
  • Aggrenox (aspirin/dipyridamole)
  • Pradaxa (dabigatran)
  • Persantine (dipyridamole)
  • Xarelto (rivaroxaban)

We will advise you to discontinue or adjust your dosage of these medications. We may have you consult with your primary care physician or cardiologist prior to your procedure. Also let us know of allergies to any medications.

If you are using insulin, the dosage or timing will also need to be adjusted the day of the procedure.

Refrain from eating anything starting at midnight before your procedure is scheduled.

For a stent placement by colonoscopy, your cleansing routine or prep will start the day before your procedure. This laxative will prepare your bowels and is the most important part of your preparation. Following the instructions and having a good cleanse can decrease the need for a repeat colonoscopy.

Because of heavy sedation during the procedure, patients are instructed not to drive, operate machinery or make important decisions for 24 hours. The nursing staff will review all of the instructions before you leave the hospital. You’ll need someone to drive you home.

After the stent placement, you’ll stick with clear liquids for the first two to three days after treatment, followed by a bland diet. The nursing staff will review these and other important postoperative instructions with you before you go home.

It’s not unusual to feel some discomfort as the stent gradually expands; pushing against the tumor can causing some irritation. Bleeding in small amounts is common due to the stent rubbing against the tumor.

Call your physician if you get a fever, have trouble swallowing or have pain in the throat, chest or abdomen.

If you are unable to keep your appointment or need to reschedule, call our office at (502) 896-4711 at least 48 hours prior to your procedure.

If you are going to be late for your procedure, call the hospital’s endoscopy department. If you are scheduled at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, call (502) 893-1277. If you are scheduled at Norton Brownsboro Hospital, call (502) 446-8200.

About Norton Healthcare Gastroenterology

  • Norton Cancer Institute has nine outpatient locations and multiple infusion centers in Louisville and surrounding counties and Southern Indiana. We have three radiation centers located just off major interstates, with free, self-service parking and valet parking.
  • Our gastrointestinal cancer patient navigator guides you through the treatment process. The navigator is a registered nurse and advocate for patients and families who can help coordinate scheduling to minimize your visits. The navigator provides information and support throughout your diagnosis, treatment and beyond.
  • The Norton Cancer Institute multidisciplinary approach to cancer care means you’ll have access to multiple specialists, including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, interventional radiologists, interventional gastroenterologists, researchers, geneticists and dietitians.
  • We pull together providers from various disciplines to help identify the best treatment for you. At Norton Cancer Institute review boards, you will be considered for innovative clinical trials, immunotherapy, minimally invasive procedures, state-of-the-art radiation and advanced diagnostics.

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