At the present time, covered self-expandable metallic stent placement is the palliative treatment method for inoperable esophageal cancer. However, life-threatening early and late complications are seen related to esophageal stent placement. In this study, we discuss complications of esophageal stent placement with their management and present our own experience.Methods
Between January 2000 and February 2009, 215 covered esophageal stent placements were performed in 174 inoperable esophageal cancer and/or esophagorespiratory fistula patients in the Department of Thoracic Surgery at the Ataturk University Hospital.Results
Major complications related to stent placement developed in 24 patients (11 bleeding, 6 aspiration pneumonia, 3 tracheal compressions, 2 perforations, and 2 esophagorespiratory fistulas). Two hundred and thirty minor complications were observed among 174 patients (165 chest pain, 29 tumoral overgrowth, 17 stent migration, 6 gastroesophageal reflux, 3 failure in stent placement, 3 hiccup, 2 foreign body sensation, 2 failure in stent expansion, 1 tumor ingrowth, 1 granulation tissue formation, and 1 food bolus obstruction). Reintervention was required in 56 (32.2%) patients who experienced complications. Stent-related mortality was seen in 4 (2.3%) patients (2 aspiration pneumonia, 1 tracheal compression, and 1 esophagorespiratory fistula). One hundred sixty-two of 174 patients died during follow up. The mean survival time was 177.3±59.3 days (range: 2 to 993 d).Conclusions
The complication rate of self-expandable metallic stent placement is high in inoperable esophageal cancer patients. Although some of these complications are life threatening, many of them can be managed successfully with endoscopic reintervention.