The word “stent” originates from the name of Dr. Charles Stent, an English dentist who developed a “prosthesis” made from natural latex (Gutta-percha, a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia) to fill in the empty space inside the tooth after root canal work. The word “stent” was then adopted by many specialties and at present it is used to describe any implant inserted into a structure that has a lumen to maintain its patency. Dr. Charters J. Symonds was the first to record the placement of a rigid esophageal tube for palliating malignant esophageal stricture. Since then tubes or stents have been used to palliate almost any gastrointestinal (GI) luminal malignancy.
Due to their modern shape and design, the use of stents has expanded to treat and palliate many other conditions, including GI leaks, perforations and fistulas. Moreover, the indications, delivery methods and techniques to place stents continue to expand. Self-expanding metal stents (SEMS) are now used to access cavities such as pseudocysts, enter the stomach through the skin, drain retroperitoneal collections percutaneously and even create anastomosis of the gallbladder to the stomach or duodenum. In this review we will focus on SEMS and its use to treat and palliate endoluminal GI and pancreatobiliary disorders in clinical practice.
Dr. Klaus Mönkemüller was a paid consultant at the time of this publication.