What is drug-eluting stent implantation?
A drug-eluting stent implantation is a procedure used to help keep the clogged heart arteries open. This decreases the narrowing of the artery and the chance for future narrowing. Drug-eluting stents are coated with medications to avoid blood coagulation and help keep the artery open.
A stent implantation is almost always combined with another procedure called coronary angioplasty. In angioplasty, a tiny balloon catheter is inserted in the blocked vessel and inflated to widen it and improve blood flow. The placements of stents help in avoiding future narrowing.
Why would I get this procedure?
Stent placement is always done during or immediately after angioplasty. Angioplasty with stent placement is recommended if:
- You have worsening chest pain.
- Lifestyle modifications and medications can’t improve your heart disease.
- You are having a heart attack (formally known as myocardial infarction). Angioplasty can be an excellent method to open the closed artery.
What happens during the procedure?
You won’t need general anesthesia during the procedure. However, you will receive a sedative to help you relax. You will also receive fluids and blood-thinning medications through an IV catheter in your hand or arm.
- A catheter will be inserted in your arm, wrist, or groin area. Your doctor will prepare this area with an antiseptic solution to avoid infections.
- A local anesthetic will be used to numb the area where the incision will be made.
- A catheter will be inserted into one of your arteries. Also, a contrast dye will be injected through the catheter once it is in place. This will allow your doctor to see the inside of your blood vessels and to identify problems.
- A small balloon at the top of the catheter is inflated at the site of the blockage. After the balloon is inflated, the spring-like stent expands and locks into place inside the inflated artery. Once the stent is placed, the balloon catheter is deflated and removed.
- The stent stays permanently in your artery to hold it open and improve blood flow to your heart muscles. Most stents are drug-coated, which means that they release drugs slowly to help prevent future narrowing of the artery and blood clot formation.
What happens after the procedure?
The procedure takes up to several hours, depending on your case and the severity of the blockage of your arteries.
If this was a nonemergency procedure, you will remain at the hospital overnight to be monitored for any complications. You will be able to return to your routine the week after angioplasty.
You will be prescribed different blood-thinning medications to reduce the chance of blood clots forming on the stent.
Coronary angioplasty with stent placement will help reduce the severity of your symptoms. However, that doesn’t mean that your heart disease will go away. You will need to continue to take your medications and follow a healthy lifestyle.
After the procedure, call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:
- Bleeding at the site where the catheter was inserted
- Abnormal pain at the site of catheter insertion
- Shortness of breath or chest pain
Mayo Clinic: Coronary angioplasty and stents