Why is the doctor performing this procedure?

To open up a coronary (heart) artery that is narrowed or blocked by plaque build-up (atherosclerosis), and to structurally support that opening by permanently placing a metal stent within the artery.

What is the procedure?

A stent is a mesh-like wire cylinder. Stent placement is often part of a PTCA (angioplasty) procedure. As in angioplasty, a catheter is inserted into an artery—usually in the groin—but sometimes in the arm or wrist. The catheter is advanced to the heart, and a series of x-ray pictures (coronary angiogram) are taken to clearly visualize the heart artery that is narrowed. Then a balloon-tipped catheter is advanced to the heart, and into the narrowed coronary artery. Inside the artery, the balloon is inflated and deflated several times, compressing the plaque against the artery wall and widening the artery so blood flow improves. This balloon-tipped catheter is removed, and a separate balloon-tipped catheter, with a stent attached, is advanced to the area that was just opened. The balloon is inflated, expanding the stent into the inner layer of the artery. The balloon is removed, but the stent stays in place, acting as a scaffold to keep the artery open. The inner lining of the artery will heal around the stent.

X-ray pictures are repeated, and if the stent has been successfully placed, the catheters are removed. Pressure is applied to the puncture site (to stop bleeding) while the patient rests quietly.

Where is the procedure performed?

In the Cardiac Catheterization Lab.

How long does this procedure take?

Angioplasty with stent placement usually takes 1-2 hours.