What is a stent and what is it for?

The stent is a device that has revolutionized cardiac medicine, significantly improving the treatment and resolution of some pathologies. For example, it is one of the main options when facing a coronary artery obstruction.

A stent is a small tube that is placed in a blood vessel, such as an artery or vein. It is a self-expanding tube, so when placing it, what is intended is to dilate that vessel that was obstructed or narrowed for any reason.

The goal is to return the glass to its normal state so that it allows the blood to pass correctly. Thus, in the case of a blockage of the coronary arteries, which are the ones that supply the heart, the placement of a stent allows the irrigation that the heart needs to beat to be maintained.

Stents were first used in the 1970s. Research is still ongoing today to improve their efficacy and reduce complications . In this article we explain everything you need to know about a stent.

What does a stent consist of?

As we have already mentioned, a stent is a small tube that is placed in a blocked or narrowed blood vessel . Once in place, this device expands, dilating that artery or vein, and allowing blood flow to proceed normally.

The stent is placed through a surgical procedure called angioplasty . It is a procedure that is done by catheterization; that is, a narrow, elongated tube called a catheter is inserted that carries the stent at its end.

The catheter is generally inserted through the femoral artery. In this way, it is inserted at the thigh level and, driving the catheter through the vessels, the area where the stent needs to be placed is reached. Its most common use is in the coronary arteries.

However, a stent can be used in many other pathologies apart from coronary heart disease. For example, it can be used to dilate other ducts, such as the ureters . It is also useful in pathologies such as aneurysms or in narrowing of other arteries , such as the kidney.

What types of stents are there?

As the years have passed, the advances in this field have been remarkable. The first stent to be used, and today called the conventional stent, was made of metal . Normally, stainless steel or chrome was used.

The conventional stent is quite effective, in addition to being the cheapest of all types. The problem with this type of stent was that the vessel where it had been placed could become clogged again.

In this way , drug-eluting stents emerged , which consist of placing a drug on the stent material itself that prevents the vessel from becoming blocked again. It is more expensive than the previous one, but it reduces the need to take medications after the intervention.

Finally, we found the bioabsorbable stents. They are like pharmaceuticals, with the improvement that the material with which they are made can be reabsorbed. In other words, our body is capable of degrading it and making it disappear.

What must be considered?

It is important to know that although the stent is a great advance in cardiology, it also has its risks and complications. It is usually placed to resolve obstruction of the coronary arteries, which is closely related to atherosclerosis .

Atherosclerosis is a disease in which accumulations of fat are deposited inside the arteries. Studies link this pathology with high cholesterol levels, hypertension and smoking.

Therefore, it is essential that we know that the stent does not cure the disease . It is a point solution to reduce a concrete obstruction. However, what we must do is to prevent further blockages in other blood vessels.

In addition, after the intervention, medical treatment is usually imposed to prevent thrombi or clots from occurring in the area where the stent is placed. In any case, it is the doctor who must choose the most effective treatment in each case.

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