Stent for a blocked bile duct
Having a stent inserted with ERCP
If the cancer is blocking your bile duct causing jaundice, you may be able to have a stent put in. This will open up the bile duct, and relieve the jaundice. A stent for a blocked bile duct is usually put in using a procedure called endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP). You will have a sedative before the stent is put in. This is to make you drowsy and relaxed, but will not send you to sleep in the same way as a general anaesthetic.
A flexible tube with a camera and light on the end (an endoscope) is put into your mouth and passed down your throat into your stomach. The camera shows the inside of your body on a screen. The stent is placed inside the bile duct using a small wire. The procedure usually takes 30-40 minutes.
Having a stent inserted through the skin (PTC)
Some people may not be able to have a stent put in with an ERCP. Instead, the stent is inserted through the tummy and liver wall and into the bile duct, using a narrow flexible needle. This is called a percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTC).
You will have a sedative, and also injections of a local anaesthetic into your tummy area (abdomen) or lower chest, so that you can’t feel anything.
What happens afterwards?
After an ERCP you may have a blood test to check that the ERCP has not caused any problems. You will be told when you can drink and eat again.
You may be able to go home on the same day, or the next day. If you have a PTC you will usually need to stay in hospital for a few days afterwards.
Will I feel better?
It is usually easy to know if the stent is working. Any symptoms of jaundice usually improve within the first couple of days. It may take around two to three weeks for your jaundice to go completely.
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