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A coronary stent is a wire mesh or coil like tube that is inserted into the coronary artery during an angioplasty procedure. Stents help keep the arteries open, can be used to treat unplanned tears (dissections) in the coronary arteries and reduce the risk of recurrent blockage at the site of an angioplasty. Stents are “wrapped” around the balloon of a balloon angioplasty catheter and once positioned within the blockage, the stent is expanded tightly against the wall of the artery by inflating the balloon. The stent remains in place after the balloon catheter is withdrawn.
A small number of arteries can re-narrow after an angioplasty procedure. This re-narrowing is usually caused by a “scar-like” growth rather than the fatty cholesterol buildup that caused the initial blockage. Stents reduce the likelihood that this will happen. Some stents contain small amounts of “medicine” that is slowly released in the area of the stent. This can further reduce the likelihood of recurrent narrowing. These types of stents are called “drug eluting” or “drug coated” stents.
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