A stent implant is a stainless steel device that compresses the plaque in an artery; it has the same function as a balloon in an angioplasty.
Doctors insert the stent implant by guiding a thin, balloon-tipped catheter through the artery to the blockage; the collapsed stent sits on the tip of the catheter. After the balloon is inflated, the stent expands against the walls of the artery, allowing normal blood flow to resume. More than one stent may be necessary to avoid closure of the artery. After a couple of weeks tissue forms around the stent and it becomes a permanent support – or scaffold – for the artery.
Last updated: 26-May-04