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What is
Interventional Radiology?
Central Venous
Access Catheters
Minimally Invasive
Treatments for Cancer
Peripheral Arterial
Stent Placement
Treating Peripheral
Vascular Disease
Uterine Fibroids
Varicose Veins
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Questions and Answers about Stent Placement

  1. What is a stent?
  1. A stent—sometimes called an endoprosthesis—is a small, flexible tube made of medical grade plastic or wire mesh.  It is implanted in the body to treat a variety of medical conditions.


  1. What conditions can be treated with stents?
  1. Stents are used to treat a number of medical conditions:
  • Stents are most commonly used to hold clogged blood vessels open after angioplasty, a procedure in which a balloon on the end of a catheter is moved through the body to the site where the blood vessel is blocked.  The balloon is then inflated to open the vessel.  In some cases, however, stents may be placed as the primary means for holding the vessel open.
  • Stents also are used to hold open bile ducts or other pathways in the body that have been narrowed or blocked by tumors or other obstructions.  Areas where stents are most often used for this reason include:
    • The esophagus, to treat blockages or narrowings that make it difficult to swallow;
    • The carotid artery, to compress the plaque against the wall of the blood vessel and open the artery to prevent stroke;
    • The bile ducts in the pancreas or liver, when an obstruction prevents bile from draining into the digestive tract; and
    • The airways of the lungs, to treat obstructions that interfere with normal breathing.
  • In some cases, stents are used to treat patients with severe liver disease.  These patients often experience life-threatening bleeding because their livers are too damaged to handle the normal flow of blood.  One way to treat this condition is with a technique called TIPS, in which a stent is used to create a connection between two veins and divert the flow of blood away from the liver.


  1. How are stent implanted in the body?
  1. The interventional radiologist makes a very small incision in the skin, about the size of a pencil tip.  The stent, which is placed on the end of a catheter, is threaded under X-ray guidance to the area of treatment.  This interventional radiology technique is generally less traumatic for the patient than surgical implantation because it involves smaller incisions, less pain and shorter recovery time.


  1. What is an interventional radiologist?
  1. Interventional radiologists are board-certified doctors who specialize in minimally invasive, targeted treatments performed using imaging for guidance.  They use their expertise in reading X-rays and using ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and other diagnostic imaging equipment to guide tiny instruments, such as catheters, through blood vessels or through the skin to treat diseases without surgery.
    Interventional radiologists are certified by the American Board of Radiology in both Vascular and Interventional Radiology and Diagnostic Radiology.  Your interventional radiologist will work closely with your primary care or other physician to be sure you receive the best possible care.

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