CardioSpecialists Group, Ltd.
About Coronary Stents

Also called: Coronary Stenting, Scaffolding Device

What Is a Stent?

A stent is a metal structure that is inserted into a blood vessel and expanded to help open a narrowed artery and improve blood flow. These are used to treat narrowing of arteries from too much plaque on the interior walls of the arteries. Your doctor will insert the stent with the help of a catheter, and the procedure is minimally invasive, but you will likely have to stay overnight at the hospital afterwards.

Stent

Pictured above are a variety of arterial stents.

How Are Stenting Procedures Performed?

You will be instructed to lie down under an x-ray camera. The area where the stent will be inserted will be cleaned and a local anesthetic applied. So that you remain still during the procedure, you will be given a sedative, but you will still be awake the entire time. Most stents are inserted into the artery that runs down the thigh, but your doctor might choose to insert it into either the radial artery in the wrist or the brachial artery in the upper arm. Your vital signs will be monitored during the procedure and you will have an IV connected to administer the necessary drugs to your system.

A small incision will be made at the insertion site. Your doctor will then feed a catheter (tube) into the artery. A guide wire will direct the catheter to the site of the stent. A special dye will be injected through the catheter which will appear on the x-ray camera. Once at the site, the stent is fed along the catheter with a deflated balloon on the inside. The balloon is inflated at the site of the narrowing, and this opens the stent. The balloon will likely remain expanded for several minutes. Once the stent has attached itself to the walls of the artery, the balloon, catheter, and guide wire are removed.

After the Procedure

You will be taken to a recovery area until the sedative wears off. Some soreness and bruising of the injection site is normal afterwards. If the insertion of the stent was the thigh, you will need to remain in bed with your legs straight for several hours. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. This step will also help to flush the dye used during the procedure out of the body. For one to two days after your procedure, you should not drive, bathe, or smoke. After your procedure, you will need to avoid heavy exercise for six weeks, until the stent is permanently attached to the inside of your artery. Your doctor will also instruct you in the proper care of the incision site and prescribe you medications to prevent blood clots inside the stent.

Is It Safe?

As a minimally invasive procedure, stenting is considered safe, but there is a slight level of risk in rare patients who might have a reaction to the sedative or a blood clot inside the stent. Some patients experience restenosis of the  site after about six months. This is when the blood vessel becomes narrowed again. In these cases, a second stenting might be required. Any questions or concerns should be discussed with your doctor before the procedure.

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