BACKGROUND: Currently applied endoscopic palliative treatment of advanced rectosigmoidal carcinoma is hampered by the cost of the equipment, the need for repeated, often painful treatment sessions, and the occurrence of complications. Metallic expandable stents are effective in the palliation of malignant esophageal and biliary stenoses. We evaluated the use of a new type of self-expandable nitinol stent in the palliation of rectosigmoidal carcinoma. METHODS: In 10 patients with advanced obstructing rectosigmoidal carcinoma, initial Nd:YAG laser treatment was performed if necessary to allow passage of a gastroscope. Subsequently, a self-expanding nitinol stent with flanged ends was inserted under combined fluoroscopic and endoscopic control. Endoscopic and clinical follow-up was carried out at regular intervals. RESULTS: After 2+/-0.4 sessions of initial laser therapy, minimal lumen diameter was 9+/-1 mm. Stent insertion was successful in 9 patients, increasing minimal lumen diameter to 14+/-1.2 mm (p < 0.005). In one patient, stent deployment was complicated by a sigmoid perforation, requiring surgery. After insertion, colorectal stents remained adequately positioned and free of obstruction for 103+/-31 days. Patient survival after stent placement was 204 +/-43 days. Stent migration occurred in 3 patients, after 38+/-10 days. Obstruction of the stent because of tumor ingrowth was observed in only one patient, after 268 days. CONCLUSION: Insertion of self-expandable nitinol stents in patients with rectosigmoidal carcinoma is technically feasible. Metallic stents are effective in the palliation of malignant rectosigmoid obstruction; they provide an alternative to repeated palliative laser therapy or palliative surgery.