Are there any problems with stents for a blocked bile duct?

Stents to treat symptoms of pancreatic cancer can cause some problems. There are ways to deal with these.

What's in the 'Stents for a blocked bile duct' section?

If the stent gets blocked

The main problem with biliary stents is that they can get blocked. This is usually caused by the cancer growing through the stent, or a build-up of thick bile in the stent.

If this happens another stent can be put in to treat the blockage.


There is a risk of infection. This is usually caused by the stent getting blocked.

Signs of infection include tummy pain, the jaundice coming back, high temperature, aching muscles or shivering. An infection may also make you dehydrated (when your body loses more water than it takes in). If this happens, phone your nurse or go to A&E.

Antibiotics can treat the infection and the stent can be replaced.

Stent moving out of place

Sometimes stents can move out of place. If this happens the stent is usually removed and a new one put in.

Signs that there may be a problem include tummy pain. The jaundice may also come back. Speak to your doctor or nurse if you get any of these symptoms. They can decide if the stent needs to be replaced.

Inflamed pancreas

Sometimes the ERCP used to put in the stent can cause pancreatitis. This is an inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms include bad tummy and back pain, being sick or having a temperature. Your doctors will look out for this problem but if it happens after you have gone home, phone your nurse, or go to A&E if it’s outside working hours.


Occasionally stents cause discomfort in the upper tummy when they are first put in. This is not common and normally gets better over a few days.

Other possible problems

There are some other possible problems from having a stent put in in. For example, sometimes the procedure can cause bleeding or a hole in the intestine. But these problems are very rare.

If you have any side effects after you have left hospital, phone your nurse or doctor, or go to A&E if it’s outside working hours.

If you have any questions or worries about having a stent put in, speak to your medical team.

Questions to ask your doctor or nurse

  • Will a stent help me feel better?
  • How quickly will I feel better after the stent is put in?
  • Are there any problems with stents?
  • Will a stent affect future treatment such as chemotherapy?

Questions about stents?

You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line with questions about having a stent put in or any problems afterwards.

Speak to our nurses
Specialist nurse Dianne

Updated October 2021

Review date October 2023