Undergoing a stint procedure

November 12, 2012

Undergoing a stint procedure

Stints are used to help aid blood flow to and from the hear and are sometimes known as shunts.

A stint is an artificial tube used to allow the free flow of body fluid. Patients who suffer from narrowed arteries or certain heart problems may have a heart stint, also called a shunt, inserted during an angioplasty procedure. A heart stint is metal, mesh tube installed via catheter and balloon, once the stint is in place the balloon is collapsed and removed – the stint then expands and remains in an open position in order to widen the artery. Patients who are treated by having a stint inserted may be able to avoid the necessity of heart by-pass surgery.

Explaining angioplasty

The angioplasty procedure is undertaken in patients who have blocked or hardened arteries; it is almost non-invasive and lasts only a couple of hours, it is generally extremely successful. During an angioplasty a catheter is inserted, sometimes through the groin area, into the artery leading to the heart. The catheter has a balloon attached to the end and once the area requiring treatment is reached this balloon is then inflated in order to widen the artery and remove or compress the blockage. At this point a heart stint may also be inserted which will then remain in place permanently as it improves blood flow and reduces the risk of cardiac disease.

After placement

Once the heart stint has been placed and the mesh expanded the blockage, or clot, will be crushed against the artery wall and the blood will, once again, be able to flow freely. There are two kinds of heart stints -

  • Drug eluting stints are coated slowly dissolving medication which will prevent the stint from becoming blocked. These types of stints are becoming more popular as they reduce the risk of the patient requiring further procedures.

  • Plain metal stints.

Once the stint has been in place for a couple of weeks the artery wall will grow over it which will then keep it in position.

Stint maintenance

Once the heart stint is in position there is little more for the patient to worry about. For the first 4 weeks after the procedure the patient should not undergo an MRI scan as this may cause the stint to become dislodged. In order to avoid the stint becoming clogged a blood thinner such as aspirin or warfarin may be prescribed. Patients will also be advised to follow a health, low fat, low cholesterol diet.

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