A stent is a small metal spring like device placed around the balloon. It can be implanted inside the coronary artery to help keep the artery open and and prevent re-blockage.
The patient is given a mild sedative before PTCA. The groin or the arm area is anaesthetized by a small injection. A small straw-like tube called the sheath is passed into the artery. Through this sheath, the specially shaped guiding catheter is passed and pushed through the femoral or radial artery in the aorta and then its tip is placed in any coronary artery.
Next, a thin wire is threaded across the blockage in the coronary artery. Over this wire, a thin inflatable balloon is passed to the level of the blockage. The balloon is inflated. The balloon ‘opens up’ the blockage by compressing the plaque and stretching the artery open.
This process may be, in exceptional situations repeated by using several progressively larger balloons to open up the blocked coronary artery further.
A balloon angioplasty will open an artery upto 70%-80% of its original diameter. Since it still leaves a small amount of blockage, it requires the use of one of the most fascinating gadgets, namely the ‘stent’.