Stent procedures are used to treat coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease, renal artery stenosis, carotid artery disease and abdominal aortic aneurysm, according to MedlinePlus. Stents may also be used to keep damaged or blocked ureters open, keep bile flowing in bile ducts and treat thoracic aortic aneurysms.
Stents are tiny tubes that are implanted into a blood vessel, artery, urethra tube or other hollow structure to hold the structure open, notes MedlinePlus. Most stents are crafted from plastic mesh, metal or fabric materials. Stents used in the coronary arteries are left in the arteries permanently. For example, an intraluminal coronary artery stent is used following a balloon angioplasty procedure to keep the coronary artery from closing. It is a small metal mesh tube that is designed to be self-expanding. Some stents, such as the drug-eluting stent, are coated in special medicines that prevent the reclosing of arteries.
Some patients may need more than one stent implanted, depending on the severity and length of the blockage, notes Medtronic. The stent, when expanded, pushes built-up plaque from the artery’s wall back and restores the flow of blood. More than two million people in the United States undergo coronary stenting procedures each year.