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A stent is a tiny metal mesh tube placed into an artery or blood vessel to hold the structure open. In many cases, stenting — the procedure to place a stent in the body — can be done with a minimally invasive approach, using a catheter to guide the stent into place.

There are different kinds of stents. Most are made of a metal or plastic mesh-like material. However, stent grafts are made of fabric. They are used in larger arteries, such as the abdominal aortic artery.

A coronary artery stent is a small, self-expanding metal mesh tube that is placed inside a coronary artery after balloon angioplasty to prevent the artery from reclosing.

A drug-eluting stent is coated with a medicine that helps further prevent the arteries from closing. Like other coronary stents, it is left permanently in the artery.

Most of the time, stents are used to treat conditions that result when arteries become narrow or blocked by plaque buildup. Stents are commonly used to treat the following conditions that result from blocked or damaged blood vessels:

Other reasons to use stents include:

  • Keeping open a blocked or damaged ureter
  • Treating aneurysms, including thoracic aortic aneurysms
  • Keeping bile flowing in blocked bile ducts
  • Helping people breathe if they have a blockage in the airways

Risks of stenting include:

  • Allergic reaction to stent material
  • Allergic reaction to the drug used in a drug-eluting stent
  • Blood clot
  • Clogging of the inside of the stent (in-stent restenosis)
  • Rupture of the duct or vessel when the stent is inserted

A physician should be consulted if patients have further questions about risks or about the procedure.

Texas Health is committed to providing quality care to heart and vascular patients throughout North Texas and beyond. While various technologies and services are discussed here, not all of our hospitals offer every treatment and diagnostic technology highlighted. Call 1-877-THR-WELL to learn more about heart and vascular services at a Texas Health hospital near you.