Intestinal Stent: the Way of Life Again

Heart stents are familiar to the public, but stenting in the intestine is a new thing. With the development of medical technology, now there occurs a more advanced "intestinal stent" treatment method. Having been more and more widely used in clinical practices, these intestinal stents are mainly used for relieving intestinal obstruction caused by intra-abdominal tumors (especially digestive tract tumors). Instead of undergoing a "fistula" in the intestine, nowadyas, patients will only need to have an intestinal stent placed under the colonoscope. Similar to a colonoscopy, intestinal stents can greatly relieve the obstruction and reopen the way to life.

1. Why do I Need to Place an Intestinal Stent?

In the presence of intestinal obstruction, especially acute intestinal obstruction, the patient often suffers from unbearable pain. At this point, the patient's life may be in danger if no intervention is made. When a complete obstruction occurs in the colon, the colon above the obstruction area or even the small intestine can be dilated due to the accumulation of intestinal fluid and intestinal gas, or the ileocecal valve will block the backflow of the colon contents to the ileum and form a closed-collar intestinal obstruction. This may cause water-electrolyte imbalance in the body, which may lead to shock or even death. In addition, the increasing pressure in the intestinal lumen may rapidly develop into strangulated intestinal obstruction or even intestinal necrosis and perforation, thereby causing secondary peritonitis. After intestinal perforation, intestinal contents may enter the abdominal cavity and cause serious abdominal infection.

In addition, intestinal obstruction can also lead to inflammatory edema of the intestinal wall, which will greatly influence the normal enteral nutrition. If no procedures are conducted, this may lead to the destruction of the intestinal mucosal barrier function, and bacteria in the intestine may enter the blood in large quantities and cause systemic infection, which may even lead to the occurrence of sepsis and endanger life. Therefore, intestinal stent can greatly reduce the threat of intestinal obstruction.

2. Intestinal Stent is Better than "Artificial Anus"

For patients with acute intestinal obstruction caused by a tumor in the gastrointestinal tract, the previously existing approaches were mostly surgical. These methods often require a temporary or permanent "fistula". This "fistula" is an artificial anus formed through the abdominal wall by creating another opening in the intestine, thereby giving the congested intestine an additional exit point and an external fecal pouch. Although the traditional method can lead to a temporary relief of obstruction, the fistula hanging such "artificial anus" is still, in essence, inconvenient for life, and it is also unsightly.

According to experts, unlike the fistula, the intestinal stent is not significantly invasive and is like a colonoscopy for the patient. The doctor will place the stent at the obstruction area under the endoscope through a guiding wire. With the aid of the X-ray, the stent can open a channel in the blocked intestinal cavity, thus forming a real sense of "unblocking". For colorectal, pyloric, and duodenal obstruction, the "intestinal stent" may be used to clear the obstruction, and a stent can also be placed again when the obstruction reoccurs.

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