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When does angioplasty surgery also involve a stent?

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Quick Answer

A stent may be used during angioplasty when a determination is made that it's necessary to keep a narrow artery open, says WebMD. In cases where repeat blockage is a possibility, doctors use a special kind of stent that contains medicine to prevent a recurrence.

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Full Answer

Angioplasty is a procedure that uses a tiny balloon to temporarily open a clogged artery, explains Mayo Clinic. A stent is a small, metal tube that provides permanent support for an artery and decreases the likelihood of future blockage. Angioplasty usually involves the placement of a stent after the balloon opens the artery. After a stent is inserted, it may be necessary to take a blood thinner such as clopidogrel to reduce the odds of getting a blood clot.

Angioplasty is used to treat atherosclerosis, which causes chest pain, shortness of breath and may lead to a heart attack, according to Mayo Clinic. A surgeon inserts a catheter into an artery in the groin, arm or leg, and then guides it to the spot where the constriction is. Dye is injected into the bloodstream so the surgeon can see details of the blockage on X-rays. The balloon at the end of the catheter may be inflated and deflated several times in order to stretch the artery. Angioplasty may not be the best option for people with a weak heart and those with multiple blockages.

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