Stenting is a catheter-based procedure in which a small, expandable wire mesh tube is inserted into a diseased artery, providing a support to hold the artery open. First performed in the mid-1980s and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1994, stenting currently is performed most often in conjuction with other catheter-based procedures.

While catheter-based procedures – such as balloon angioplasty or atherectomy – partially reduce vessel narrowing, the stent functions to ensure little or no remaining narrowing within the coronary arteries. Stent insertion in conjunction with other procedures reduces the risk of the artery re-narrowing (restenosis) and almost eliminates the risk of abrupt vessel closures during or within 24 hours of the procedure. Drug-coated, or drug eluting, stents have been developed to help reduce the rates of long-term re-narrowing.

Within one month, a thin layer of the artery’s inner lining cells will cover the stent. Metal detectors or most mechanical equipment will not affect a stent. To ensure successful stenting, patients are strongly encouraged to learn and practice healthy lifestyle behaviors for good heart health. Risk factors such as smoking or high cholesterol levels can threaten the success of a stenting procedure. For instance, unchecked high cholesterol levels can lead to new blockages in the coronary arteries.