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 bile in the stent. If your stent gets blocked, the jaundice may come back, and you may get symptoms again.

If this happens another stent may 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. If you have signs of an infection, contact your medical team, or go to A&E.

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

Stent moving out of place

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

Tummy pain or jaundice coming back can be signs that the stent has moved. Speak to your doctor or nurse if you get either of these symptoms. They can decide if the stent needs to be replaced.

Inflamed pancreas (pancreatitis)

If an ERCP is used to put in the stent, this can sometimes cause pancreatitis. This is an inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms include severe tummy and back pain, being sick, or a high temperature.

Your doctors will look out for this but if it happens after you have gone home, contact your medical team. If you can’t reach them, go to A&E.


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. For example, sometimes the procedure can cause bleeding or a hole in the intestine. But these problems are very rare. If you are concerned about any symptoms after you have left hospital, contact your medical team or if you can’t reach them, go to A&E.

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 I need any blood tests after having the stent put in?
  • 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 2023

Review date October 2026