Stents What to Expect When Getting a Stent


Having a stent placed is a minimally invasive procedure.  

Coronary and carotid artery stenting

Procedures to place a stent to treat coronary and carotid arteries are similar. In both, your doctor will use cardiac catheterization to thread a thin tube with an empty balloon on the end through a blood vessel to the narrowed or blocked artery. Once in place, the balloon is filled with air and the stent is opened and placed in the artery.

  • The procedure to place a coronary stent is called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), commonly known as coronary angioplasty. Sometimes the procedure is done in an emergency, such as during a heart attack. The stent provides support to the artery after the artery is re-opened.
  • The procedure to place a stent in the carotid artery is called carotid artery stenting. This is a minimally invasive treatment for severe carotid artery disease.
Illustration of placing a stent in a coronary artery
Placing a stent in a coronary artery. From left to right, first, an image of the coronary arteries surrounding the heart. Then, close-up images of the artery with plaque and a catheter inserted with balloon and stent attached. The third image shows the balloon inflated to push the artery open and open the stent. Finally, the artery and stent in the final image are shown after the catheter and balloon are removed. Medical Illustration Copyright © 2022 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.


Illustration of placing a stent in a carotid artery
Placing a stent in a carotid artery. A series of images shows a carotid artery with plaque buildup and then placement of a stent to widen it. Figure A shows the artery narrowed with plaque. Figure B shows the stent being placed and beginning to be opened. Figure C shows the stent when fully expanded.

Aortic aneurysm stenting

After a cut is made in your upper thigh, your doctor inserts a stent graft through a large blood vessel using a catheter and guides it through the arteries to the location of the aortic aneurysm. The stent graft is placed at the site and opened up. Dye may be injected into the blood after the stent graft is placed to make sure it is working correctly and blood is not leaking into the aneurysm. The dye can be seen by X-ray.

Illustration of aortic aneurysm repair
Aortic aneurysm repair. In figure A, a catheter is inserted into an artery in the upper thigh. The catheter is threaded to the abdominal aorta, and the stent graft is released from the catheter. In figure B, the stent graft is placed, allowing blood to flow through the aorta.

Airway stenting

An airway stent is placed using a bronchoscope, which is a small camera on the end of a long tube. The doctor slides the bronchoscope through your nose or mouth and then down through your throat into the trachea and the airways.

The stent is placed by sliding a guide wire along the side of the bronchoscope, then sliding a thin tube that carries the stent along the guide wire. Using the bronchoscope to watch, the doctor opens the stent in the narrowed airway. Fluoroscopy, a type of X-ray imaging, or ultrasound may also be used to help guide stent placement. After the stent is placed, your provider may check your lungs using a chest X-ray.

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