Endoscopic stenting of many sites along the gastrointestinal tract can be performed successfully for malignant or benign obstructions. These obstructions may be the result of primary gastrointestinal tumors invading the lumen, tumors of another primary site causing external compression, or in some instances benign diseases associated with inflammation.

These stents resolve the obstruction or improve symptoms and are often used as first-line therapy as an alternative to a feeding tube insertion or surgery. In the case of blocked bile and pancreatic ducts, the stent can be inserted via an endoscope during endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). For patients with colon cancer, the stent is inserted via an endoscope inserted into the rectum. For stent placement in the small bowel, the stent is inserted via an endoscope into the duodenum.

Stents can also be placed before chemotherapy or as a "bridge" to surgery in patients who need to gain weight (such as those with esophageal cancer) or receive a preparation (such as those with colon cancer). Clinical trials are currently ongoing on novel stent designs for various sites in the digestive lumen.

Stent placed in the bile duct
A stent placed in the colon



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