A stent is a small wire mesh tube used to open arteries that are narrowed or blocked. Coronary stents are used to treat coronary artery disease (CAD), a condition in which fatty deposits build up in the arteries that bring blood and oxygen to your heart.
Stent treatments at Loyola are often performed using minimally invasive techniques. A coronary stent is often used as a first line of treatment for CAD, reducing the need for bypass surgery.
Prior to stent placement, angioplasty is performed by inserting a balloon catheter to open a narrowed artery. Patients may feel tightness or pressure in the chest during the procedure at the time of balloon inflation. As the balloon is deflated and withdrawn from the artery, the stent remains in place and serves as a permanent scaffolding to keep the artery open. Within a few weeks, the natural lining of the artery grows over the surface of the stent. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia with mild sedation and takes approximately two hours.
A new type of treatment, vascular brachytherapy, uses certain forms of radiation to reduce renarrowing of the artery after a stent is inserted. A catheter with a radioactive tip is introduced to the narrowed area of the artery. Radiation is then released, resulting in destruction of the overgrowth of tissue cells that caused the artery to narrow.
A Drug-eluting Stent (DES) is a stent coated with a special medication to reduce the risk of renarrowing of the artery. The medication slowly dissolves into the artery in the weeks after the stent is inserted.