Palliation of advanced esophageal cancer continues to be a challenge to clinicians. Self expanding metal stents have been used in the esophagus for palliation of advanced esophageal cancer since 1983. They are relatively easy to insert by practicing endoscopists and have low rates of early complications. Delayed complications necessitating reintervention can arise in as many as a third of patients. The majority of stents are placed under sedation using endoscopy and fluoroscopy. Once deployed, they expand in the esophagus causing pressure necrosis on the wall of the esophagus. Several stents are available on the market with newer designs continuing to emerge. Choice of stent seems random among clinicians. Stents have been used for the management of esophageal obstruction including cervical esophageal obstruction and obstruction at the esophagogastric junction, tracheopulmonary fistulae, and mediastinal esophageal compression. Complications include chest pain, deployment and expansion problems, stent migration, tumor overgrowth and ingrowth, gastroesophageal reflux, and stent-related hemorrhage. Despite their high cost, stenting produce better palliation and some cost savings in comparison to conventional methods of palliation. Combination therapy using stenting followed by chemo/radio therapy may increase quality survival.
- Esophageal cancer