During a stent placement, a doctor places a wire mesh tube into an artery. An effectively placed stent can improve blood flow and help prevent a heart attack or a stroke. It may also help reduce the pain you may feel when blood flow is inadequate. For example, the restriction of blood flow to the heart can cause chest pain. Pain isn't something you should expect during stent placement, however; most people only feel a bit of discomfort.
To perform stent surgery, a doctor typically threads a catheter, which is a thin tube made of plastic, into an artery through the groin area. Sometimes, however, a doctor may use an entry point you don't expect during stent placement. For example, he may thread the catheter in through a leg or an arm instead. To ensure accuracy while he performs the surgery, a doctor will likely inject a special dye into your body to enable him to see your blood flow on a special monitor. With this visual guidance in place, a doctor will then move a balloon catheter into the artery followed by the stent that will keep it open; if he is treating an extensive area of blockage, he may use multiple stents.
You can expect to have only a small nick when you undergo stent surgery. To perform this surgery, doctors only have to thread a catheter through your artery. Since this tube can enter a tiny opening in your body, there is no need for a doctor to make a large cut in your body tissue. This means you may experience less discomfort than you expect during stent placement, and you may also heal faster than you would with a large incision.
Once the balloon catheter is in the proper place, a doctor will inflate it in order to open and stretch the problem artery. When the doctor thinks the artery has been stretched and opened enough, he will usually remove the balloon catheter and the regular catheter. The stent will remain in place.
Though pain may be among the things you expect during stent placement, you are unlikely to experience any. In most cases, doctors apply topical medication to the area through which they will thread the catheter. As such, you will probably be comfortable during this process. You may, however, feel some discomfort when the doctors inflate the balloon in your artery. This usually subsides when the inflation device is deflated.