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.