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What exactly is a stent?

Vascular Specialists

You’ve probably heard it a dozen times about friends or family; “he’s got a stent now.” While we know that means the patient has been treated surgically, do we have any idea what a stent really is?

Dr. Tanquilut, Dr. Pradhan and Vascular Specialists are here to help explain!

So what is a stent?

A stent is, quite simply, a tiny wire mesh tube – like a section of minuscule reinforced garden hose.

Why would you need a stent?

Arteries that become lined with plaque cannot handle normal blood flow and cause a wide variety of symptoms, from shortness of breath to chest pain. When you are diagnosed with this condition, atherosclerosis, you could be treated in a variety of ways depending upon the severity of the disease. You may just be prescribed lifestyle changes if the disease is caught very early, or you may be a candidate for a stent insertion if your atherosclerosis is advanced.

How are they placed?

To insert the stent, Dr. Tanquilut or Dr. Pradhan will perform an angioplasty. A stent is placed over the tip of a balloon catheter. The catheter is inserted into the artery, positioned at the blockage and the balloon inflated. The stent expands along with the balloon, locks into place and the balloon is deflated. Catheter and balloon are removed, but the stent remains in the artery permanently, helping to keep the artery open.

Does everyone with advanced atherosclerosis get a stent?

Angioplasties can be performed without stents, where the balloon just pushes the plaque aside, but research shows patients who are able to have stents inserted have better long-term results. The ability to use angioplasty and a stent to open an arterial blockage depends on the blockage’s location, the size of the artery and other factors relating to the patient’s health.

How tiny is “tiny”?

Take a close look at the photograph above. Stents can be as narrow as 2mm and as short as 8mm. Dr. Tanquilut and Dr. Pradhan will carefully analyze the size of your arteries and blockage to make sure your stent is the correct size for optimal recovery.

When you or someone you know has been diagnosed with atherosclerosis and is considering a stent, Vascular Specialists is glad to answer any questions, discuss treatment options, or provide a second opinion. Just call 815-824-4406 and make an appointment in New Lenox or Olympia Fields. 

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