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A stent is a small, flexible, spring-like device that is used to support artery walls after angioplasty. A stent can be used to treat artery blockages in kidney, leg, groin, or the heart. Special stents called Drug Eluting Stents (DES), are the newest treatment for coronary artery narrowing. These stents are coated with a tiny dose of a drug that slowly dissolves.

Why use a stent?

Narrowed or blocked arteries are found in the kidney, leg and groin, and heart arteries. An effective procedure to open or dilate narrowed arteries is called angioplasty or the balloon procedure. Commonly, the doctor will use a stent as part of the angioplasty procedure. A stent is a tiny, wire mesh tube that is used to prop and hold open the artery walls after angioplasty. A stent resembles the spring in a ball point pen. It is very small and flexible and collapses to a small diameter. The collapsed stent is attached to a balloon catheter and guided to the area that is narrowed or has undergone angioplasty. The balloon is inflated and the stent expands, locks in place and forms a scaffold. The scaffold holds the artery walls open. The stent stays in the artery permanently, holds it open, and improves blood flow. The improved blood flow to the affected area can eliminate symptoms such as pain or, in the case of the kidney, improve function.

Stents coated with a special medication are now available. These new stents are used by doctors treating narrowed heart arteries. The new stents are called Drug Eluting Stents (DES). Before the DES, artery walls grew extra fast around the bare metal stents thus causing a narrowing again. The DES releases a special medication slowly over a month. The special medication prevents the over-growth of cells in the area that has been opened.

John Muir Health Capabilities

John Muir Health is a leader in treating diseases of the cardiac and vascular system. Advanced diagnostic and treatment equipment is available at both John Muir Medical Center-Walnut Creek and John Muir Medical Center-Concord. Doctors, who are experts in medical and surgical care of arterial disease, are available.