Doctors use cardiac stents to reduce symptoms and treat heart attacks in patients with coronary atherosclerosis, reports WebMD. The placement of coronary stents requires no incisions and reduces the risk of complications compared to coronary bypass surgery in the treatment of coronary heart disease.
Stent placement requires the use of mild sedation and local anesthesia rather than general anesthesia, explains WebMD. Because the placement of stents does not require incisions, the recovery period is generally shorter than that of coronary bypass surgery. Possible complications from the procedure include in-stent thrombosis, which is the formation of a blood clot within the stent, and restenosis, which is the formation of scar tissue around the stent that causes the vessel to return to a narrowed state. Blood thinner medications address the potential of in-stent thrombosis. Doctors can sometimes use stents to address restenosis, but the condition may make coronary bypass surgery necessary.
Medical device manufacturers first produced stents using bare metal, notes WebMD. Restenosis affected 25 percent of these first-generation stents. Manufacturers added a coating of drugs to inhibit the restenosis process, creating a device called a drug-eluting stent. These devices reduced the incidence of restonosis to less than 10 percent. Other stent designs that are in development or clinical trials include devices that the body absorbs over time, platinum-coated stainless steel stents and gene-therapy coated stents.