Understand Balloons and Stents

Balloons and stents are used to break through buildup in arteries or to strengthen a weak spot in artery walls. Stents can be placed minimally invasively, removing the need for the more risky open heart surgery for many patients.

Stents are placed as part of a procedure to open up narrowed arteries, called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or coronary angioplasty. When performing PCI, our physicians make a small opening in a blood vessel in your groin, arm or neck. 

When the aorta, your body's largest artery, is weak in one area, an endovascular stent graft can be performed to strengthen it, keeping the aortic aneurysm from rupturing. This procedure is also performed minimally invasively through a small incision in the groin.

Using an X-Ray video to guide them, cardiovascular surgeons deliver the stent to the problem area of the artery being treated with a small, flexible tube called a catheter. The stent is attached to a balloon at the tip of the catheter. When the tip reaches the problem area, the balloon expands, opening the mesh-like stent up to break through any blockage and provide support to the artery walls. Once the stent is in place, the balloon is deflated and the catheter removed, leaving the stent behind.

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