A stent is an expandable mesh hollow tube made of metal or plastic. Using an endoscope, it is inserted in your body to keep a tubular body organ or structure (for example, the food tube/esophagus or a blood vessel) from closing down or collapsing on itself. An endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a light on the end that is used to look at internal organs and structures.
Stents are sometimes inserted into the colon, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, bile duct or other tubular organs and ducts of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The stent is usually made of medical-grade plastic or metal. It is open at both ends so food, liquids or body fluids can pass through it. Sometimes doctors use an endoscope to guide the stent to a specific area.
Endoscopic stents are often called self-expandable metallic stents, or SEMS. They are important in managing cancerous tumors or obstructions in the GI tract. They are also used when a narrowed or blocked area causes discomfort or problems digesting food.