Cancer in the lower part of the stomach can partly or completely block it. This can stop food from passing through your digestive system. You might have a stent in this situation. A stent is a small metal or plastic tube put into the stomach to relieve the blockage.
You have the stent fitted in hospital in the endoscopy department or x-ray department. It usually takes about 30 minutes.
Before your treatment
Your doctor or specialist nurse explains what happens and how they fit the stent. They ask you to sign a consent form saying that you agree to have the procedure. You can ask them any questions that you have. Tell them about any medicines you are taking.
You shouldn’t eat or drink for at least 6 hours beforehand.
A nurse puts a small tube called a cannula into a vein in the back of your hand. They go with you to the endoscopy or x-ray department.
The doctor or nurse injects a medicine to make you sleepy into the cannula in your hand. Or you might have a general anaesthetic, so that you'll be asleep for the procedure.
Having a stent
Your doctor passes an endoscope down your food pipe into your stomach. You then have an x-ray so that your doctor can see where the blockage is on a screen. A stent is then passed through the endoscope to where the narrowing is. They pass the stent down the wire until it's in the right place.
You stay in the endoscopy department or x-ray department until the sedation or anaesthetic wears off. You wear an oxygen mask for a short time. A nurse then takes you back to your ward. You need to stay in hospital overnight or for a few days.
The stent expands over a couple of days. This opens up the bottom of the stomach so that food and drink can pass through to your bowel again.
Eating and drinking with a stent
You can’t eat or drink for the first 2 to 4 hours after having the stent. Your nurse tells you when you can start drinking. You may only have liquids at first and then build up to eating soft foods.
Your dietitian will tell you which foods you can eat. Do ask any questions that you have.
- Eat 'little and often', for example 3 small meals with snacks.
- Sit upright while you eat and for an hour after your meal.
- Chew food well and remove any lumps or gristle.
- If you have dentures, wear them to make chewing easier.
- Avoid drinking too much while you eat, as this will make you feel full. Take small sips if you need to. But drink plenty of fluids at other times of the day.
- Avoid tough lumps of meat, wholegrain bread and stringy fruits and vegetables.
You might have some pain in your chest or tummy for the first few days. Taking painkillers will help. This usually goes away, but contact your GP or endoscopy department if it doesn’t improve.
Let your nurse or doctor know if you feel sick. They can give you medicines to reduce sickness.
Heartburn or acid reflux
Tell your nurse or doctor if you have heartburn or acid reflux. They can give you anti acid medicine.
Sleeping upright in bed helps to prevent heartburn. You can use pillows or cushions to support yourself.
You might have some slight bleeding in the stomach. It might give you a metallic taste in your mouth. This usually gets better over a few days.
Your nurse will give you mouthwashes. Tell your nurse if you cough up blood.
A hole in the stomach
Damage to the stomach can tear it or make a hole (perforation).
This is very rare. If this happens, the tear usually heals by itself.
If food blocks the stent or the stent moves
You might start to feel or be sick. Or you might feel full more quickly after eating.
If this happens:
- try not to panic
- drink plenty of fizzy or warm drinks to try and clear the blockage
- walk around as this sometimes helps
Call your doctor or endoscopy department for advice. You might need another endoscopy or new stent.
At home with a stent
You have support from community nurses or your local symptom control team. You also have regular appointments at the hospital to check the stent.
The hospital or your GP give you any medicines that you need.
Your doctor may also offer you chemotherapy to help shrink the cancer and relieve symptoms.
You might also have a targeted or immunotherapy drug with your chemotherapy. Your doctor would test a sample (biopsy) of your cancer to check if this was a suitable treatment for you.