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What Are the Different Types of Stents?

By Christina Edwards
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A stent is a tube-like structure used to prop open a body conduit. Some of the most common types of stents are coronary and vascular stents. These are placed in major blood vessels to aid in blood flow. Ureteral and urethral stents are two other types. These are placed in the ureter and the urethra, respectively.

A coronary stent is probably the most common type of stent. These are often used during angioplasty surgeries to hold open an artery. Coronary stents are typically inserted through a small incision in the arm, leg, or groin. With the help of internal imaging, a catheter is threaded through a major vein into a the coronary artery that needs stenting. A balloon on the end of the catheter is then inflated, which causes the stent to expand.

A few types of stents also are used for coronary stenting. A metal mesh stent is one of the most common. Some even contain drugs, which are slowly released into the patient's body. Scientists also have developed a stent designed to be absorbed by the body over time.

Other major blood vessels throughout the body may also need stenting. This is usually done to help treat or prevent an aneurysm. For example, a stent will usually be placed in the abdominal aorta in the case of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

There are two ureters in the human body, which drain urine from the kidneys to the bladder. A ureteral stent is usually put in place to help keep this passageway open so urine can pass into the bladder. Obstructions of the ureters can cause serious complications, so patients with a kidney stone may have these types of stents put in. These may also be put in patients who have a tumor pressing against the ureter, clamping it shut.

The urethra is the passageway in the body that leads from the bladder to the outside of the body. This tube is necessary to rid the body of urine. Urethral stents are used to help keep the urethra open. These are usually only used in male patients when their prostates become enlarged.

There are two types of urethral stents. Temporary urethral stents are placed for a short amount of time, then removed. These can usually be put in place in doctors' offices. Permanent urethral stents, on the other hand, are usually placed during a surgical procedure, and they are meant to be left in the urethra.

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Discussion Comments
By MrMoody — On Nov 14, 2011

@miriam98 - I’m surprised to read that some patients with kidneys stones have urethral stents. I thought in those cases they just waited for the kidney stones to be flushed from the body. But I guess if they are stopping the flow of urine then these stents would be a necessity.

Based on what I’ve read about the difficulties with heart stents, I think patients with temporary urethral stents would be better off. The problem with all of these stents is that the body treats them as foreign objects and then tries to work its way around it or throw its attack mechanisms on it.

Personally, I believe that doctors need to come up with biological implants, kind of like synthetic stents made of cells, that will cooperate with the body’s mechanisms. That way they won’t be treated as foreign cells and can be permanently assimilated into the body.

By miriam98 — On Nov 13, 2011

@SkyWhisperer - I’ve heard that in principle a heart stent is a good idea, but it’s not without its pitfalls. This is especially true with the drug coated stents.

The drug, which is meant to inhibit new clots from forming, also prevents new cells from forming as well. This means healthy cells cannot grow around the stent and therefore the stent becomes like a foreign protrusion in the artery.

Eventually, this paves the way for more clotting or bleeding. As a result, from what I understand, the drug coated stents can do you in as well. It’s a shame but this does happen in a few thousand cases each year, and so doctors are resorting to stent use less and less.

Alas, I think there is no perfect solution but to go on a diet that prevents the clotting from taking place to begin with, in my opinion.

By SkyWhisperer — On Nov 13, 2011

My dad had multiple bypass surgery for repeated heart problems. Lastly, the doctors used stents in arteries to keep the blood vessels open. I admit I was frightened that he had so many issues with his heart and was unsure how long the stents would serve him, but they have served him quite well.

I was concerned about stents too because I had heard that they were not as effective in the long run as regular bypass surgery. Stents treat only a portion of the artery while bypass treats a larger section and produces less recurrent chest pain.

I am not a doctor, but given that my dad has already had bypass then I suppose stents were the only option left at that point.

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