A stent is a small mesh tube made of metal or fabric. It is used to treat narrowed, blocked, or weakened arteries. Stents can be used to treat blockages of the coronary arteries, carotid arteries, renal arteries (kidneys), and arteries in the limbs (peripheral arterial disease). Your doctor may use a stent during angioplasty to treat an artery that has been blocked or narrowed by a build-up of fatty material called plaque. During angioplasty, your doctor uses a catheter with a balloon attached to the tip in order to reopen the blocked or narrowed artery. Your doctor will then place the stent within the artery to permanently hold it open and make sure normal blood flow is maintained.
A stent may also be used to treat an aneurysm in the aorta (the major artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body). An aortic aneurysm happens when an area of your aorta weakens and can no longer handle the normal force of blood pressing against it. In order to reinforce the weakened portion of the aorta, your doctor may place a stent to help strengthen the aorta and prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.