Before we learn about how a stent is inserted, we should find out what a stent actually is…
A stent is a tiny device that is used to open up an artery when there is a narrowing. It is cylinder shaped, made of very fine metal mesh usually around 15-20mm long and 2-5mm wide. These devices can be used in either emergency surgery to treat a heart attack, or during a planned surgery to widen an artery that has become narrow due to a build-up of plaque. This is called an angioplasty procedure.
If this surgery is done without the use of a stent, then there is a risk that it can become narrow again, which is why a stent is now used in almost all angioplasty procedures.
To insert a stent a long hollow tube, called a catheter, is inserted into the wrist or groin using an x-ray to guide it to the narrow artery. A fine wire is then fed through the catheter followed by a balloon and the flattened stent. When the cardiologist is happy with the position the balloon is then inflated to widen the artery and the stent expanded to fit the artery wall. After the catheter is removed along with the wire, leaving the stent in place. This procedure will usually only take around 30-60 minutes to complete.
Although you are awake during the procedure, you should not experience any pain. A local anaesthetic will be given at the site of the catheter insertion and as artery have no nerve endings you will not feel anything.
This is an extremely safe procedure, with only 1 in 100 patients experiencing a complication.
If you would like to speak to one our consultant about having a stent, please call 0207 034 8972 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.