A stent is a mesh metal tube inserted after angioplasty to keep the artery propped open. Drug-coated stents (also called drug eluting stents) provide an additional benefit; they slowly release a medication that blocks cell proliferation and prevents scarring during the first few weeks after insertion, when scarring is most likely to occur. With traditional stents, about 20% of patients who undergo angioplasty experience restenosis – scarring of tissue around the stent – which can narrow or block the artery again. The use of a drug-coated stent dramatically lowers the patient’s risk of needing another procedure due to restenosis.
When is it indicated?
Drug eluting stents are recommended only if the artery to be treated is less than 3 mm in diameter or the affected section of the artery is longer than 15 mm.