A stent is a medical device that can be inserted inside the body to bypass normal vessels in the body such as veins, arteries, and other passages. Stents allow the free flow of blood, air or other elements that are being blocked or cut off for some reason. As with any medical device placed inside the body, certain complications can arise when a stent is inserted.
Stents can cause bleeding inside the passage they are placed in. This is often due to a stent that is too large or too small or because the stent is moving too much within the passage. In worst-case scenarios, the stent can punch through tissues and cause perforations in the body. Perforations are holes and can lead to bleeding, tissue damage, lacerations of surrounding tissue and organs, infection and migration of the stent outside the area it was placed in.
Stents may occasionally move, or migrate, from where they were placed in the body. This can cause serious complications, because the stent is no longer where it's supposed to be and it may not be performing its job once it has moved. Besides failing to perform the job it was intended to do, a moved stent can lead to more serious problems like creating a blockage somewhere else in the body. This leads to major complications with other organs.
Stents can become cracked or broken within the body. The stent may not function correctly once this happens. While fractures can be caused for various reasons, the main problems stem from the material the stent is made of, where it is in the body and the amount of time it is in use (overall wear and tear). In moderate cases, the stent will be left in place and monitored regularly. In severe cases where the stent has fractured, surgical correction is required.
A stent can cause the body to react defensively, creating mucous build-up, inflammation of surrounding tissues and organs, narrowing of the blood vessels around it (stenosis), abnormal tissue build-up and infection. These reactions can occur in anyone and are the result of the body's rejecting the stent as a foreign object.
- Food and Drug Administration: FDA Public Health Notification: Complications From Metallic Tracheal Stents in Patients With Benign Airway Disorders
- ABC News: What Are Stents, How Do They Work, and When Are They Used?
- MedPage Today: Plastic Preop Biliary Stents Are Not Problem Free
- North American Journal of Medical Sciences: Esophageal Stent Migration Can Lead to Intestinal Obstruction
- Circulation: Risk Stratification, Systematic Classification, and Anticipatory Management Strategies for Stent Fracture After Percutaneous Pulmonary Valve Implantation