Information for patients
This leaflet can be made available in other formats including large print, CD and Braille and in languages other than English, upon request.
As you are having problems with swallowing, your Doctor has suggested an oesophageal stent may help to improve this. This leaflet tells you how the stent is inserted and what you need to do to prepare for it.
What is an oesophageal stent?
A stent is a short length of flexible tubing, usually made of a fine wire mesh.
It is guided into position inside the narrowed part of your oesophagus (gullet). It starts out at about the width of a pencil and gently opens up to about the size of a thumb.
Usually, it opens on its own, but sometimes the narrowing needs to be dilated (stretched) as well. If dilatation is needed, flexible (bendy) rods of gradually increasing thickness, or a balloon, are used to stretch the narrowed area.
Once the narrowing in your gullet has been opened up with the stent, your fluid and food should pass through to your stomach easier.
A stent remains in position permanently; once it has been in place for more than a few weeks, it will be impossible to remove.
What does a stent look like?
Will it hurt?
It should not hurt, but you may have chest or back pain while your stent beds in. This can last for 1 – 2 days. It is important to let your Doctor or Nurse know if you have any pain, as painkillers can be given.
How long will I need to stay in hospital?
This procedure is usually carried out as a day-case procedure. In certain situations, you may need to stay in hospital for 1 – 2 days after your procedure or until your Doctor is happy that you are fully recovered and you are able to eat and drink comfortably.
What are the benefits, risks and possible complications?
Stent insertion is generally safe and you should notice an improvement in your symptoms 2 – 3 days after your procedure.
As with all medical treatments, there are some risks and possible complications.
The risks and any possible complications will be discussed fully before you consent to the procedure.
- Minor bleeding. This usually stops without any further treatment. Your blood pressure, pulse and pain level will be checked regularly.
- Aspiration. Fluid from your stomach can leak into your lungs, affect your breathing and cause an infection. This is one of the reasons why you must not eat or drink for 6 hours before the procedure.
- Perforation (hole). in the wall of the oesophagus. 2 – 7 patients in every 100 having this procedure may suffer a perforation. If this happens, you may need to have a special stent inserted or an emergency operation to repair it.
- The stent slipping out of position. If this happens, the procedure may need to be repeated.
- Blocked stent. The stent can sometimes get blocked with food. You will be given a leaflet ‘Living with an oesophageal stent’, telling you how to prevent this happening and advice on how to try to clear it yourself. If it remains blocked, an endoscopy may be needed to clear it.
Where will I go to have my stent inserted?
You will be given an appointment to come to the University Hospital of North Tees, Endoscopy or the Day Case Unit. From here, you will be taken to the X-ray Department.
How should I prepare for my procedure?
You must stop eating and drinking for 6 hours before your procedure.
Take your normal medication, with a small amount of water, at your usual time.
If you are taking medication to thin your blood (such as Clopidogrel, Ticagrelor, Dipyridamole, Warfarin, Rivaroxaban, Apixaban or Dabigatran), you must contact the Endoscopy unit as soon as you get your appointment for advice about taking your medication.
If you do not let them know, your procedure may have to be cancelled.
The procedure usually takes about 20 – 30 minutes.
If you have diabetes, you should contact your diabetic liaison Nurse for advice about your medication.
If you are unsure about how to prepare for your procedure, please contact the Unit or your specialist Nurse (See contact numbers).
What can I expect to happen?
You will be asked to come to either a ward or the unit before your procedure. Your Doctor will explain the procedure to you and discuss the risks and possible complications described earlier. This is just to make sure you understand everything before you sign the consent form.
In the unit:
- A local anaesthetic will be sprayed on to the back of your throat to numb the area
- You may be given extra oxygen through a soft plastic tube in your nose.
- Your pulse and oxygen levels will be checked by putting a small plastic clip on your finger.
- A gastroscope (a long, thin, flexible tube about the thickness of your finger) will be passed through your mouth and guided down into your oesophagus (gullet).
The stent is passed down the gastroscope and when your Doctor is happy with the position of the stent, it is released and will begin to open. The gastroscope is then removed, leaving your stent in place.
- You will stay in the unit until the immediate effects of the anaesthetic have worn off. You will then be transferred to one of the wards if post-procedure hospital admission is planned.
- You will be discharged home about 1 – 2 days after your procedure when your Doctor is happy that you are fully recovered and you are able to eat and drink comfortably.
If you need further advice or have any problems, please contact the appropriate number below:
University Hospital of North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust
Monday to Friday 08:00am-07:00pm
Telephone: 01642 624387
Monday to Friday 09:00-05:00pm
Telephone: 01642 624842
Diabetic Liaison Nurse
Monday to Friday 09:00am-05:00pm
North Tees: 01642 624618
Hartlepool: 01429 522945
Upper GI (Gastro-intestinal) Clinical Nurse Specialist
Monday 9.30am – 2.30pm
Tuesday – Friday, 9.00am – 5.00pm
Non-urgent messages can be left on the answering machine, or you can contact the hospital switchboard on 01429 266654 and ask the operator to contact the Upper GI (Gastro-intestinal) Clinical Nurse Specialist.
Telephone: 01642 383987
Accident and Emergency Department
24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Telephone: 01642 382899
Further information available
Oesophageal Patients’ Association
50 High Street
Henley in Arden
Monday – Friday, 9.00am – 3.00pm
Telephone: 0121 704 9860
E Mail: [email protected]
Macmillan Cancer Support
89 Albert Embankment
Monday – Friday, 9.00am – 8.00pm
Telephone: 0808 808 0000
Calls to this number are free from landlines and mobile phones.
When it is less urgent than 999, call 111
PIL Number: PIL1361
Date for Review: 09/02/2025
Sami, S.S., Haboubi, H.N., Ang, Y, et al, (2018). UK guidelines on oesophageal dilatation in clinical practice. Gut, 67(6), pp.1000-1023.
Comments, concerns, compliments or complaints
Patient Experience Team (PET)
We are continually trying to improve the services we provide. We want to know what we’re doing well or if there’s anything which we can improve, that’s why the Patient Experience Team (PET) is here to help. Our Patient Experience Team is here to try to resolve your concerns as quickly as possible. The office is based on the ground floor at the University Hospital of North Tees if you wish to discuss concerns in person. If you would like to contact or request a copy of our PET leaflet, please contact:
Telephone: 01642 624719
Freephone: 0800 092 0084
Monday – Friday –
Out of hours
Out of hours if you wish to speak to a senior member of Trust staff, please contact the hospital switchboard who will bleep the appropriate person.
Telephone: 01642 617617
Data protection and use of patient information
The Trust has developed Data Protection policies in accordance with Data Protection Legislation (UK General Data Protection Regulations and Data Protection Act 2018) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. All of our staff respect these polices and confidentiality is adhered to at all times. If you require further information on how we process your information please see our Privacy Notices.
Telephone: 01642 383551
This leaflet has been produced in partnership with patients and carers. All patient leaflets are regularly reviewed, and any suggestions you have as to how it may be improved are extremely valuable. Please write to the Clinical Governance team, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital of North Tees, TS19 8PE or: