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When undergoing stent surgery, most people will encounter no pain and are actually able to monitor the procedure on operating room television monitors. After receiving a local anesthetic to numb the inner thigh area of the leg, the area is prepped by shaving any hair from the thigh where it joins with the groin. A small incision is made and the doctor inserts an angioplasty tool into the main artery and works it up into the heart. After determining the location of a blockage, the tool is removed and a stent is placed onto the end of the tool. The tool is once again inserted into the artery and the stent surgery is completed when the stent is placed in the blocked artery.
The entire procedure lasts for only a few minutes. Once the stent has been placed and the tool is removed, the most difficult portion of the stent surgery is to follow. The patient is required to lie completely motionless for up to several hours in order for the open incision to seal up. This area is not able to be stitched, and the success of the stent surgery is dependent on the sealing of this incision. The lying still is typically the most difficult part of the procedure for most patients.
It is the task of the doctor who is performing the stent surgery to determine if a stent will suffice for the patient or if a bypass surgery is warranted. While the angioplasty is taking place, the doctor will explore all areas of the heart to check for plaque and blockages. The patient is able to monitor this exploration by watching a television monitor placed overhead. A radio-active dye is injected into the patient's blood stream before the stent surgery to aid in tracking the angioplasty tool throughout its journey.
The most commonly reported sensation from patients who have undergone a stent surgery is a feeling of pressure as the angioplasty tool makes its way through the heart. Providing the doctor does not encounter any severely blocked arteries or any damaged heart muscle, the stent surgery is complete with the placing of the stent or stents in the case of multiple blockages. If the doctor finds any severely blocked arteries, typically 75-percent blockage or more, the procedure will be ended with only a scouting expedition and bypass surgery will be scheduled.