Are there any problems with stents?
The main problem with stents is that they can get blocked. This is usually caused by the pancreatic cancer growing through the stent. Bile can also build-up in a biliary stent. If this happens the blockage can be removed, or more stents can be put in. With a duodenal stent, food can block the stent, and it may need to be replaced – often after three or four months.
There is also the risk of infection with stents. This is usually caused by the stent getting blocked. With biliary stents an infection may also be caused by the bile flowing more slowly through the stent, or because bile salts have collected inside the stent.
Signs of infection include tummy pain, aching muscles, high temperature or shivering. If this happens contact your GP. This can be treated with antibiotics, and the stent can be replaced.
Stent moving out of place
Occasionally stents can move out of place. If this happens the stent is usually removed and a new one put in. Signs of this include tummy pain, fever or shivering. The symptoms that you had before the stent was put in may also return. It is important you speak to your doctor or nurse if you get any of these symptoms. They can decide if you need antibiotics or if the stent needs to be replaced.
Sometimes an ERCP for a biliary stent can cause pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms include severe tummy and back pain and being sick. Your doctors will look out for this problem but if it happens after you have gone home, go to your local accident and emergency (A&E) department or phone your nurse.
Resting and having soft foods and fluids can help these symptoms to settle down. But if they are more severe you may need to go back to hospital.
Other possible problems
There are some other possible problems from having a stent put in, but these are very rare. For example, there is a risk of getting a hole in the duodenum (duodenal perforation) during or after a duodenal stent is put in. This can cause bleeding, vomiting or an infection.
If you do have any side effects, speak to your doctor straight away. Or visit your local accident and emergency department.
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.
Published February 2017
Review date February 2019