Arterial Stents

What is a stent?
A stent is a small metal coil or mesh tube that is placed in a narrowed or blocked artery. The stent stays in the artery to hold it open and improve blood flow.

How is the stent implanted?
The skin is first cleaned and numbed where the catheter will be inserted. The stent is placed over the balloon-tipped catheter. It is then guided to the narrowed or blocked part of the artery. Contrast dye is injected through the catheter. This lets your doctor see your artery on an angiogram, a special X-ray picture. The balloon is inflated to open the stent. This also helps compress the plaque. The catheters are then removed and the stent remains in place. The stent holds the artery open and increases the blood flow to the heart muscle.

How long does the procedure take?
The procedure takes about one to two hours. You will be awake, but you will be given medication to help you relax. You will not feel the catheter or stent being placed.

For a few hours after the implant, you may remain on a heart monitor and will have an IV line. We will check your pulse, blood pressure, and insertion site often. Blood tests may be done.

How do I prepare for the procedure?
The night before the implant, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight. Your doctor may also order blood tests, an electrocardiogram, and a chest X-ray. You will be given an IV line for fluids.

What are the risks associated with this procedure?
As with any procedure, there are certain risks. But the risks of a stent implant are fairly low. They include bleeding from the insertion site, allergic reaction, or kidney problems due to the X-ray contrast dye, blood clot forming on the stent, tearing or cracking of the artery lining, heart attack, or stroke.

What can I expect during my recovery?
After the implant, we will take you to a cardiac care unit or your hospital room. If there are no problems, you will most likely go home the next day. Before your discharge, you will receive instructions concerning medications, follow-up care, and follow-up visits. For several weeks, you may need to take an antiplatelet medication to help prevent blood clots, and you may need blood tests may to check your response to this medication.