The Pros and Cons of Stenting
The advent of angioplasty, a procedure during which your cardiologist inserts a balloon within a blocked blood vessel to push aside plaque causing a partial blockage was nothing short of revolutionary. Prior, open heart CABG surgery was the only definitive option for bypassing such a blockage. In many cases, a balloon angioplasty is sufficient to restore blood flow and reduce the likelihood of a heart attack or other cardiovascular issues.
In some cases, a wire mesh tube-like structure is inserted into the blood vessel to maintain the opening and keep the plaque pressed to the sides of the blood vessel. This is known as a stent. Stenting has mitigated many of the potential complications of a CABG procedure and remains very effective in appropriate patients.
Some of the great benefits of angioplasty with stent to include:
- A minimally invasive alternative to some cases that would have otherwise required a CABG procedure
- Long term effect of maintaining proper blood flow in a blood vessel
- Reduction of the risk of stroke
- Improvement of organ function, including the kidneys
- Life0-saving option during a heart attack
- Often does not require general anesthesia
- Simple, swift recovery
- No visible scarring
With all of these benefits, stenting may seem like the perfect procedure for a blocked blood vessel. But as with any medical procedure, there is a risk of complications. These may include:
- Allergic reaction to stent material
- Blood clot formation on the stent
- Procedure related issues including damage to blood vessels
- Scar tissue formation around the stent
- Side effects of medicated coating on the stent
- CABG may still be necessary in some cases
- The blood vessel may collapse
The bottom line is that every patient is different, and as a result their needs as it relates to arterial blockage will vary as well. Some patients will require a CABG due to the circumstances surrounding their blood vessel blockage. Others will benefit from the convenience and minimally invasive nature of stenting. Ultimately, your cardiologist will determine the best course of action after a thorough diagnostic that will include health history and diagnostic testing.