Stent placement, often referred to as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or angioplasty with stent placement, is a common medical procedure used to treat blockages or narrowing in the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle, and when they become narrowed or blocked by atherosclerotic plaque, it can lead to chest pain (angina) or increase the risk of a heart attack. Stent placement is used to restore normal blood flow through the affected artery.
Here are the key points about stent placement:
Stent placement is typically performed in a cardiac catheterization lab (cath lab) by a specially trained interventional cardiologist. The procedure is done with the patient awake but under local anesthesia and mild sedation. In many cases, a stent is placed at the site of the blockage. A stent is a small, mesh-like tube made of metal or polymer. It is mounted on a balloon and positioned in the artery at the location of the blockage. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands, locks in place, and acts as a scaffold to keep the artery open.
Types of Stents:
– Drug-Eluting Stents (DES): These stents are coated with medication that helps prevent re-narrowing (restenosis) of the artery. There are 2 generations of these stents presently available.
– Bare-Metal Stents (BMS): These stents do not have a medication coating and are primarily used in certain situations.
– Bioabsorbable Stents : These are largely experimental as studies have not shown these to be better than BMS.
Stent placement is most effective in an acute heart attack where it can save lives by immediately restoring blood flow in a blocked artery. Though commonly used, the role of stents in chronic stable angina is controversial. Most studies have not established benefit of stents over optimal medical treatment.
While stent placement is generally safe and effective, it carries some risks, including bleeding at the access site, allergic reactions to contrast dye, blood vessel damage, stent-related complications (e.g., stent thrombosis), and the need for future interventions.
Stent placement is an important tool in the treatment of coronary artery disease and is often used to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals with blockages in 1 or 2 coronary arteries. Dr.Nikhil says,” If you are told, you need more than 2 stents, you might benefit from bypass surgery”.