Stenting is a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) performed by an interventional cardiologist to open a narrowed or blocked coronary artery and restore blood flow. A stent procedure is most often used in conjunction with angioplasty, and it involves placing a mesh-like metal device (the stent) into the blocked artery to keep it open. A collapsed stent is mounted onto the outside of a balloon-tipped catheter, threaded through a blocked artery, and positioned at the blockage. The balloon is inflated to flatten the plaque or blockage and expand and “deploy” the stent. The opened stent becomes embedded in the artery wall and acts as a scaffold to prevent the artery from collapsing. The catheter and deflated balloon are then removed, leaving the stent in place.
Restenosis occurs when the blockage in the treated area returns, and this is found in 15% to 20% of patients who undergo a stenting procedure. A technology that researchers and physicians developed to prevent restenosis is coated or “drug-eluting” stents.
Coated, or “drug-eluting,” stents are covered with a medication that prevents tissue growth. The rate of restenosis with coated stents is estimated at about half of that of non-coated stents. Unless otherwise instructed by their cardiologist, most patients who receive drug-eluting stents must take anticoagulation medications without interruption for at least 1 year after stent implantation.
Texas Heart Institute www.texasheartinstitute.com/HIC/Topics/Proced/angioplasty.cfm
Medline Plus www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002303.htm