Cardiac stent placement begins with the doctor inserting a catheter through a small incision in a blood vessel in the patient's arm, neck or upper thigh, explains the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The catheter is a thin, flexible tube with a stent wrapped around a deflated balloon at the tip. Guided by X-ray movies of the catheter as it travels through the blood vessel, the doctor positions the catheter in the narrowed artery or at the aneurysm location.
If the artery is narrowed due to buildup of plaque, the doctor moves the catheter to the blocked areas and then inflates the balloon, explains the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The inflation widens the artery by pushing the plaque against the artery wall and expands the stent, which is pushed into place. Then the doctor deflates the balloon and removes the catheter. Eventually, cells grow over the stent's mesh and give it the look of a normal blood vessel.
Placement of a stent in an artery with an aneurysm follows the same steps, though the stent is made of pleated fabric instead of metal mesh, which is used in narrowed arteries, notes the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. This type of stent often has one or more hooks to help attach it to the arterial wall and keep it in place.