biliary stenting (endoscopic)
Biliary stents are straight or slightly curved tubes that are placed through a stricture in the biliary tree. They have a valuable role in the palliation of:
- those with malignant jaundice
- patients with choledocholithiasis at risk of blockage
- those with stones not extractable by other means
They are not indicated for relatively young patients with obstructive lesions: these require surgical bypass.
The key complication of stenting is blockage. This occurs after a lag of several months, sooner for smaller stents, due to the accumulation of bacteria, mucoprotein and other secretions. Treatment is by endoscopic removal of the stent.
Self-expanding metallic biliary stents inserted percutaneously and transhepatically are presently being investigated.
Last reviewed 01/2018