Stents Getting a Stent

Having a stent placed is a minimally invasive procedure, meaning it does not require a large open incision.

Coronary and carotid artery stenting

Procedures to place a stent to treat coronary and  carotid arteries  are similar. In both, your healthcare provider will use catheterization to thread a thin tube with a stent and an empty balloon on the end through the blood vessel to the narrowed or blocked artery. Once the balloon is in place, filling it with air opens the stent to hold up the artery walls. Then your provider will empty the balloon of air again and remove the tube and the empty balloon from the artery.

Illustration of placing a stent in a coronary artery
Placing a stent in a narrowed coronary artery. The coronary arteries surround the heart and provide oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. To place a stent in a coronary artery narrowed by plaque, a catheter is inserted with an empty balloon and a stent attached at the end. The balloon is inflated to push the artery open and open the stent. Finally, the catheter and balloon are removed, leaving the stent in place to keep the artery open and prevent it from narrowing again.
  • Carotid artery stenting is a minimally invasive treatment for severe carotid artery disease. Usually, the procedure to place a carotid stent includes temporarily blocking the blood flow from the narrowed artery to the brain. This helps prevent any pieces of  plaque  from reaching the brain and causing a stroke.
Illustration of placing a stent in a carotid artery
Placing a stent in a narrowed carotid artery in the neck. The carotid arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to the brain. To place a stent in a carotid artery narrowed with plaque, a catheter is inserted with a stent and an empty balloon at the end. In the narrowed area, the balloon is filled with air to widen the artery and open the stent in place. After the catheter and balloon are removed, the expanded stent helps keep the artery open to restore normal blood flow to the brain.

Aortic aneurysm stenting

The procedure to place a stent graft in the aorta to treat an aneurysm is called endovascular aneurysm repair. Your healthcare provider inserts a stent graft through a large blood vessel using a catheter and guides it up your arteries to the location of the aneurysm. Once it is in the right place, the stent graft opens up and attaches to the walls of the aorta. This will seal off the aneurysm and prevent it from getting bigger or rupturing. After placing the stent graft, your provider may inject a contrast dye into your blood and take an X-ray of your aorta to make sure blood is not leaking into the aneurysm.

Illustration of aortic aneurysm repair
Placing a stent graft in aortic aneurysm. A catheter is inserted into an artery through a small cut in the upper thigh. The catheter guides the stent graft to the abdominal aorta. At the aneurysm, the stent graft expands as the catheter is slowly pulled back out. Once the stent graft is in place, it allows blood to flow through the aorta without pushing against the aneurysm’s weak walls.

Airway stenting

Bronchoscopy uses a small camera on the end of a long tube to look inside the airways in your lungs. To do that, your healthcare provider slides the camera, or bronchoscope, through your nose or mouth and down your throat into the airways. During the procedure, your provider can also insert an airway stent or take samples for diagnostic tests.

If you need a stent, your provider will slide a thin tube that carries the folded stent along the side of the bronchoscope. Your provider may also use fluoroscopy, a type of X-ray imaging, or ultrasound to help guide stent placement. Once it is in the right area, the stent will expand in the narrowed airway to push it open. After placing the stent, your provider may check your lungs using a chest X-ray.

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