What is a Stent?

A stent is a small tube normally made of either metal or plastic that is used to keep a patient’s arteries open for proper flow of vital fluids. This device is permanently placed in order to prevent the artery from narrowing again in the future.

Blocked arteries are very dangerous, especially those that affect the heart. A blockage could easily lead to an aneurysm or stroke, which often result in death. These blockages are typically caused by a buildup of plaque, or by a blood clot.

When is a Stent Necessary?

As previously mentioned, stents are often used to treat heart conditions. In some cases, they may even be performed shortly after the patient has suffered a heart attack or stroke.

These helpful little devices can also be used in other areas of the body, like the:

  • Ureters: A stent may be placed in one of the ureters to help urine travel from the kidneys to the bladder. This can be especially useful if the patient suffers from frequent kidney stones.
  • Bile ducts: The bile ducts allow bile to pass between the digestive organs like the liver and gallbladder. This bile is what gives our bodies the ability to process fats and other waste products.
  • Bronchi: The airways of your lungs are known as bronchi, which when restricted, can lead to a wide variety of respiratory problems.

How the Procedure Works

Most stent placement procedures are minimally invasive, meaning that your cardiovascular surgeon will be able to insert them using a few tiny incisions near the affected artery. Occasionally, your provider may also choose to utilize an imaging guide such as a endoscope or an angiogram to assist them in locating the blockage.

The Recovery Process

Because stenting is minimally invasive, it typically only requires a single overnight hospital stay. It is of course also advised for the patient to refrain from any strenuous activities for at least a week or two, depending upon their age and previous health history.

Other post-procedure recommendations include:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Taking all prescribed medications as directed (most of which will help to prevent blood clots from forming)
  • Refraining from any heavy lifting or other intense activities until cleared by your cardiovascular surgeon

Be sure to seek immediate medical attention if you experience chest pain, a fever, or swelling near the incision site(s). These may all be signs of more serious complications, which need to be addressed as soon as possible to prevent further damage.