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Biliary Stent Placement: What to Expect at Home

Your Recovery

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP)

If your biliary duct placement was done with ERCP, you probably will stay at the hospital or clinic for 1 to 2 hours. This will allow the numbing medicine and the medicine that helped you relax to wear off. You will be able to go home after your doctor or a nurse checks to make sure that you are not having any problems. If you stay in the hospital overnight, you may go home the next day.

You may have a sore throat for a day or two after the procedure.

Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC)

If the placement was done with PTC, you will be on bedrest for several hours. Your healthcare team will monitor you closely for bleeding or other problems. You may have a tube in place that's connected to a collection bag or capped. How long the drain stays in place depends on what caused the problem with your bile duct. If the drain is to stay in place when you go home, your doctor will talk to you about this. You'll also get instructions about how to take care of the tube.

Your doctor will talk to you about when you can go home.

You may have some pain where the needle entered your skin (the puncture site). You may also have pain in your shoulder. This is called referred pain. It's caused by pain travelling along a nerve that goes to the liver. The referred pain usually lasts less than 12 hours. You may have a small amount of bleeding from the puncture site.

You will need to take it easy at home for 1 to 3 days after the PTC. You will probably be able to go back to work and most of your usual activities after that.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Walk each day. Walk a little more each day than you did the day before. Walking boosts blood flow and prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Avoid activities or exercises that use your belly muscles for 1 week or until your doctor says it is OK. For example, bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise.
  • Don't lift or carry anything heavier than 4.5 kg (10 lb) for 3 days. As you feel ready, do a little more activity each day for the next 7 days after the procedure.
  • You may need to take a few days off from work. This will depend on the type of work you do and how well you feel. If your job includes heavy lifting, using machines, or doing hard activity, talk to your doctor about when you can go back to work.

Diet

  • Follow your doctor's directions for eating after the procedure.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).

Medicines

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • If your doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
  • If you're not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. They will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, be sure to talk to your doctor. They will tell you if and when to start taking this medicine again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.

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.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or Health Link at 811 now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have signs of an infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot hold down fluids.
  • Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter U812 in the search box to learn more about "Biliary Stent Placement: What to Expect at Home".

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