Drug-eluting stents; Urinary or ureteral stents; Coronary stents
A stent is a tiny tube placed into a hollow structure in your body. This structure can be an artery, a vein, or another structure such as the tube that carries urine (ureter). The stent holds the structure open.
When a stent is placed into the body, the procedure is called stenting. There are different kinds of stents. Most are made of a metal or plastic mesh-like material. However, stent grafts are made of fabric. They are used in larger arteries.
A coronary artery stent is a small, self-expanding, metal mesh tube. It is placed inside a coronary artery after balloon angioplasty. This stent prevents the artery from re-closing.
A drug-eluting stent is coated with a medicine. This medicine helps further prevent the arteries from re-closing. Like other coronary artery stents, it is left permanently in the artery.
If you have a blocked artery in your heart, legs, or neck, you may need a stent to keep your blood flowing to prevent serious problems. Let's talk today about stents. A stent is a tiny tube we place in an artery, blood vessel, or other duct (such as the one that carries urine) to hold the tubes open. A stent is left in permanently. Most stents are made of metal or plastic mesh-like material. Stent grafts made of fabric are often used in larger arteries. Stents are used to treat a variety of artery and other problems. Your doctor will make a small cut in a blood vessel in your groin and thread a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to the place in your body where you need a stent. In the heart, a fatty substance called plaque can build up inside the coronary arteries. Plaque narrows the arteries, reducing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. One stent, called an intraluminal coronary artery stent, is a small, self-expanding, metal mesh-like tube that is placed inside a coronary artery after balloon angiography. This stent prevents the artery from re-closing. Another stent is coated with medicine that helps further prevent an artery from re-closing. In the carotid arteries, which are on both sides of your neck, plaque can build up and slow the flow of blood to your brain. Stents can keep the carotid arteries open. Stents can also open up narrow arteries in your legs caused by peripheral arterial disease. They're also used to treat an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is when the large blood vessel that supplies blood to your abdomen, pelvis, and legs becomes abnormally large and balloons. After a stent procedure, your doctor will probably recommend that you take aspirin and another anti-clotting medication to prevent blood clots from forming in the stent. Make sure that you talk to your doctor, before getting a stent, about the risks associated with placing a stent to treat your condition, such as tissue growing around the area where the stent was placed.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
Most of the time, stents are used when arteries become narrow or blocked.
Stents are commonly used to treat the following conditions that result from blocked or damaged blood vessels:
- Coronary heart disease (CHD) (angioplasty and stent placement - heart)
- Peripheral artery disease (angioplasty and stent replacement - peripheral arteries)
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Renal artery stenosis
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (aortic aneurysm repair - endovascular)
- Carotid artery disease (carotid artery surgery)
Other reasons to use stents include:
Harunarashid H. Vascular and endovascular surgery. In: Garden OJ, Parks RW, eds. Principles and Practice of Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 21.
Teirstein PS. Interventional and surgical treatment of coronary artery disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 65.
Textor SC. Renovascular hypertension and ischemic nephropathy. In: Yu ASL, Chertow GM, Luyckx VA, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Taal MW, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 47.
White CJ. Atherosclerotic peripheral arterial disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 71.
Last reviewed on: 6/16/2020
Reviewed by: Deepak Sudheendra, MD, RPVI, FSIR, Director of DVT & Complex Venous Disease Program, Assistant Professor of Interventional Radiology & Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, with an expertise in Vascular Interventional Radiology & Surgical Critical Care, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.