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A biliary stent, also known as a bile duct stent, is a thin, hollow tube that is placed in the bile duct. The stent holds the duct open after the duct has been blocked or partly blocked.
Fluids like bile need to flow through your bile duct into your intestine to help digestion. If the duct is blocked, these fluids can build up in the liver. This can cause symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of your skin and whites of your eyes), belly pain, and nausea. Bile that isn't draining as it should can get infected.
Opening up the duct with a stent allows bile to drain and can help you feel better.
There are two ways your doctor can place a bile duct stent: ERCP and PTC.
In an ERCP, the doctor will use a tool called an endoscope, or scope. It is a thin, lighted tube that bends. It has a camera on it so the doctor can guide the scope to the bile duct. The doctor uses the scope to put a metal or plastic tube in the bile duct. This can help open the duct.
Before the test, you may get medicine to numb the back of your throat. You also will get medicine to help you relax. During the test, you may be asked to lie on your side.
In a PTC, the doctor moves a long needle through your belly and into the liver. The needle is used to inject dye into the liver. X-rays are taken while the dye moves through the bile ducts. The doctor will take that needle out and insert a special hollow tube into the bile duct. The doctor will then move the stent through this tube and place it in the bile duct.
You will get medicine to numb your skin and keep you comfortable during the test. Some patients will require a general anesthetic.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.
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Adaptation Date: 5/3/2021
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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