The Center for Thoracic Oncology at Boston Medical Center is, first and foremost, here to serve you and your family. We are a team of dedicated specialists whose common goal is to treat your cancer and lead you on the path to recovery in as comfortable a way as possible. You will be treated in state-of-the-art facilities using a multidisciplinary approach. Our staff of compassionate diagnosticians, surgeons, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and surgical nurses work collaboratively to provide you with the most advanced and effective medical treatment in New England—as well as unmatched patient care.
Sometimes lung cancer blocks the airways or presses on them and makes breathing difficult. Stent placement is one way to improve breathing ability and ease pain and discomfort. Stents are small tubes—usually made of mesh or metal—that are inserted into the airway to allow oxygen to flow through freely again. Typically, an endoscope, an instrument that allows us to view your throat and lung area, is used to thread an expandable metal stent to the appropriate lung area. Once in place, it is released, pushing the airway walls open. Stents can be used to treat obstructions in other types of cancer (such as esophageal cancer), as well as in arteries to facilitate blood flow.
How to Prepare
Preparation is rarely extensive, but it is important to follow your physician's instructions prior to your procedure. Stent placement can be performed using local or general anesthesia, depending on your situation; general anesthesia may require you to avoid food and drink after midnight on the day before your procedure. Please also arrange for someone to drive you home.
What to Expect
You will be monitored carefully throughout this procedure. Once the anesthesiologist has numbed the area or put you to sleep, your surgeon will insert the endoscope through your nose or mouth or through a surgical incision. A folded-up stent is advanced to the appropriate area and released. It expands automatically against the walls of the airway, thereby providing support. Once it is in place, the endoscope is removed.
Stent placement requires minimal recovery and is typically an outpatient procedure; usually you will spend some time in the recovery room to wake up fully. Spend the remainder of the day resting, and by the following day you should be able to return to normal activities.
If you notice any of these signs of infection or other symptoms that concern you, please call your doctor.