Oesophageal stenting is a procedure done to permanently open a blocked area in the oesophagus that when blocked, causes difficulty swallowing foods or liquids. The stent expands against the walls of your oesophagus, giving support to the blocked or narrowed area.

Why might oesophageal stenting be necessary?

The oesophagus may become narrowed or blocked due to various conditions that cause dysphagia. However, stenting is often advised in addition to chemotherapy or radiation therapy to treat oesophageal cancer. Narrowing of the oesophagus may also be due to pressure from a nearby tumour, due to an ulcer, radiation treatment or a hole in the oesophagus.

What does the procedure involve?

Oesophageal stenting may be done on an outpatient basis with sedation or under general anaesthesia depending on the extent of stenting needed. You will be given an anaesthetic throat spray to numb your throat for the procedure if you are conscious. Before the procedure, you will be instructed to refrain from eating for 8 hours.

Oesophageal stents may be self-expandable made from metal, plastic or silicone. An endoscope will be inserted into your mouth and down the oesophagus. The stent is then inserted over the endoscope in a folded position and moved down to the blockage site. Once in position, the stent will be opened, and it will expand to the walls of the oesophagus. The stent will then remain in place, and the endoscope is removed. Afterwards, you may need to stay in the hospital for observation for a night or two. A mild sore throat, chest pain, or pain with swallowing is to be expected.