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Benefits and risks of stents

Having a biliary or duodenal stent put in is generally safe. We explain the benefits and risks.

Benefits and risks of stents for treating a blocked bile duct


  • The stent should keep the bile duct open and stop bile building up and causing jaundice.
  • It will help to improve any symptoms of jaundice.
  • You should start feeling better a day or two after having the stent put in.


  • The stent may get blocked and the symptoms you had before may return. 
  • There is a risk of infection after having a biliary stent put in. Infections can be treated with antibiotics. 
  • There is a small risk of your stent moving after it has been put in. If this happens it may need to be replaced.
  • Sometimes an ERCP can cause pancreatitis.

Benefits and risks of stents for a blocked duodenum


  • The stent opens up the blocked duodenum so food can flow, and you can eat and drink. 
  • Symptoms such as feeling and being sick should improve quickly, usually within a couple of days.


  • There is a risk that the stent may get blocked and the symptoms you had may return 
  • There is a small risk that your stent may move out of place.If this happens your doctor will decide if you need to have a new stent put in. 
  • There is a small risk of a hole developing in the duodenum (duodenal perforation) during or after having a stent put in. You may need surgery to treat this.

If you have any questions or concerns about having a stent put in, speak to your medical team. You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line.

If a stent is not a suitable option for you, you may be able to have bypass surgery to relieve a blocked bile duct or blocked duodenum

Questions to ask

  • Will a stent improve my symptoms?
  • Will a plastic or metal stent be used?
  • How quickly will I recover after the stent has been put in?
  • Will I need to change my diet after having a duodenal stent put in?
  • Will I see a dietitian?
  • How will a stent affect future treatment such as chemotherapy?

Are there any problems with stents?

Benefits and risks of stents

Published February 2017

Review date February 2019

Information Standard