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School of Medicine
What is a stent placement?
A stent is a wire mesh stainless steel tube that holds an artery open and keeps it from closing again. It becomes a permanent part of your artery.
Why is it necessary?
Fatty deposits can block blood flow through arteries and cause pain. A piece may break off, form a clot, and cause a heart attack or stroke. A stent opens the blockage and keeps it open, which allows blood to flow smoothly. Good blood flow reduces pain and risks of clots forming.
How is it done?
The doctor will insert a tiny, flexible plastic tube called a catheter through an artery in our groin, leg, or arm. A special dye is injected so blood flow through the arteries is visible on the TV monitors. The doctor moves a balloon catheter, and then a stent, to the site of the blockage. The balloon is inflated and stretched wide against the artery walls, which opens the blockage. Then the balloon is deflated and taken out, leaving the stent in place.
What should you expect?
The procedure may take place right after the arteriogram, which is used to find the blockage, or it may occur the next day.You may need to stay in the hospital two or three days.
During the procedure
- The doctor will insert the balloon catheter and inflate it to open the blockage. A stent will then be guided to the site. The doctor may need to use a number of stents to open the whole blocked area.
- You may feel some discomfort when the balloon is inflated. This will go away when the balloon is deflated.
- A small tube called a sheath may stay in the artery for two to four hours after the procedure. In some patients, it will stay in place overnight.
After the procedure
- You may go to the recovery area or to your hospital room.
- You must lay flat on your back while the sheath is in place. The head of the bed may be tilted up a little to help you rest. You will be able to bend the other leg to relieve pressure on your back, or the nurse may roll you on your side. If you feel back pain, your doctor can give you medication to make you comfortable.
- When it is safe to remove the sheath, the doctor or nurse will apply pressure to the area for 20 to 30 minutes. A sand bag and dressing may then be applied.
- You must stay in bed for another twelve hours. Within a few hours, the nurse will raise the head of the bed a little higher for your comfort.
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