A stent is a tiny wire mesh tube. It props open an artery and is left there permanently. When a coronary artery (an artery feeding the heart muscle) is narrowed by a buildup of fatty deposits called plaque, it can reduce blood flow. If blood flow is reduced to the heart muscle, chest pain can result. If a clot forms and completely blocks the blood flow to part of the heart muscle, a heart attacks results.
Once the diagnosis of significant stenosis (arterial narrowing) is made, the most appropriate therapy is vascular surgery, which may include stenting.
In most cases, the patient is awake and alert during stent surgery.
- A local anesthetic is administered in the groin and surgery begins.
- The surgeon makes an incision in the groin and inserts a catheter from the groin to the site of the artery blockage.
- The surgeon performs an angiogram, injecting dye through the catheter to see the artery on an X-ray and detect the blockage.
- The surgeon places a small protective filter above the blockage. The filter catches any particles that may break off from the blockage, preventing risk of stroke during the surgery.
- The surgeon performs a balloon angioplasty and places a stent to alleviate the blockage.
- Patients typically return home the same day as the procedure.
Radiofrequency energy is usually employed to destroy abnormal electrical pathways that are contributing to a cardiac arrhythmia. It is used in recurrent atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation (AF), supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), atrial tachycardia and some types of ventricular arrhythmia. The energy-emitting probe (electrode) is at the tip of a catheter which is placed into the heart, usually through a vein. This catheter is called the ablator.
The practitioner first "maps" an area of the heart to locate the abnormal electrical activity (electrophysiology study) before the culprit tissue is eliminated.