What is a Stent Placement Procedure?
A stent is a small tube that can be utilized in a minimally invasive medical procedure known as angioplasty. The procedure entails a surgeon threading a tube known as a catheter into an artery in the leg or arm and guiding it through to the narrowed or blocked area of the heart arteries. They then place the stent inside to hold it open and allow blood to flow more freely. This helps to reduce the symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
1. After the Procedure
After the stent has been placed there are a number of things that you can expect to happen. Firstly, you may experience some pain at the site where the stent has been inserted, particularly if you need to lie on your back for a prolonged period after the procedure. This may be relieved with medication, and the discomfort should subside after a few days. If the pain doesn’t improve, you should contact your doctor.
You may also experience some bruising or swelling. This is because the catheter and stent are inserted through the skin and muscles surrounding the blood vessel in the leg or arm. This will typically subside on its own after a few days, but you can use an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain in the meantime.
2. Recovery Time
The recovery time after stent placement differs for everyone, and it also differs based on a variety of factors, including the location and number of stents, and whether or not you have any other underlying medical conditions. However, most people can typically return to their regular activities within a few days after the procedure, and you should be able to return to work within a few days as well, depending on the type of work that you do.
Your doctor should provide you with advice on how and when you can resume activities – this includes exercise, sexual activity, and returning to work. Some people may require cardiac rehabilitation to gain more physical strength to resume their normal activities. The rehabilitation is performed under the guidance of trained medical professionals.
3. Passive and Active Surveillance
After your procedure, your doctor may recommend passive or active surveillance of your stent. Passive monitoring, also known as office or outpatient monitoring, involves scheduled monitoring usually through regular visits with your cardiologist. This allows your doctor to review your medical condition and monitor your blood pressure, lipid levels, and other potential issues.
Active surveillance, also known as in-hospital monitoring, may be recommended if there is a high risk of stent failure due to underlying medical issues or if you have experienced complications. The procedure will involve admission to the hospital and monitoring by medical personnel until any issues have resolved.
After stent placement, your doctor will typically prescribe one or more medications to reduce the risk of blood clots, lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. It is important to take your medication as prescribed, and not to miss any doses. If you experience any side effects, talk to your doctor before stopping the medications.
The most common medications prescribed after stent placement include:
- Plavix or Brilinta
- ACE inhibitor
5. Follow-up Procedures
Depending on your medical condition, your doctor may recommend that you have additional follow-up procedures after stent placement. This is to ensure that the stent continues to function correctly, or if it needs to be replaced or additional stents are required. Additional procedures could include:
- CT Angiography
- Coronary Angiography
- Stress Test
6. Living with a Stent
If you have had a stent placed, you can continue to lead an active and healthy lifestyle. However, there are some things that you should be aware of, including:
- A stent is not something that can be removed from your body once it’s been placed;
- You may need to change your diet to help manage your condition;
- You may need to make lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, engaging in regular exercise, and reducing your alcohol consumption;
- You will need to attend regular check-ups with your doctor to monitor your medical condition and ensure that the stent is working correctly.
7. Potential Complications
While stent placement is a minimally invasive procedure that is low risk, there is a small chance that complications can occur. Some potential complications include:
- Bleeding or hematoma formation;
- Stent thrombosis (blood clotting) or closure;
- Heart attack;
- Re-narrowing of the artery;
- Radiation exposure during the procedure.
8. When to Call Doctor?
If you experience any of the following symptoms after stent placement, it is important to contact your doctor immediately:
- Chest pain or discomfort that won’t go away
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fever above 100.5°F (38°C)
- Swelling, redness or drainage at the site where the catheter was inserted
- Increased or uncontrolled bleeding where the catheter was inserted.
Stent placement is a relatively low-risk procedure that has helped to improve the lives of millions of people. With appropriate postoperative care, most patients experience a quick recovery time and are able to return to their normal lifestyle within a few days of the procedure.
Stent placement is a minimally invasive procedure that can help to reduce the symptoms of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. After the procedure, it is important to follow your doctor’s advice on recovery time, monitoring, medications, follow-up procedures, and lifestyle changes. While there are some risks associated with stent placement, most people experience a quick recovery time and are able to return to their normal lifestyle following the procedure.
- Q: How long does it take to recover from a stent placement?
A: Recovery time after stent placement is normally within a few days of the procedure.
- Q: What should I expect after stent placement?
A: After stent placement, your doctor may recommend passive or active surveillance of your stent, medication prescription, and follow-up procedures to make sure that the stent is working and to manage any complications.
- Q: What medications will I be prescribed after a stent placement?
A: The most common medications prescribed after stent placement include aspirin, Plavix or Brilinta, and statins.
- Q: What are the potential complications of stent placement?
A: Potential complications of stent placement include bleeding, stent thrombosis or closure, heart attack, stroke, re-narrowing of the artery, and radiation exposure during the procedure.
- Q: When should I call my doctor after a stent placement?
A: Call your doctor immediately if you experience any chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, a fever above 100.5°F (38°C), swelling, redness or drainage at the site where the catheter was inserted, or increased or uncontrolled bleeding.
- “What is a stent, and how is it placed?” Medical News Today, 18 Mar. 2019, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/247084.
- “Stent Placement: What to Expect.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 10 July 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/coronary-stent-placement/about/pac-20385081.
- “Stent Implantation – After Stent Placement.” WebMD, 22 Feb. 2021, https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/living-with-stent-after-placement-procedure.