What Are Cardiac Stents?
Cardiac stents are very small mesh wire tubes. They are used to hold blood vessels open so that blood can flow through the vessels normally.
Why Are Cardiac Stents Done?
Doctors may place a stent if a blood vessel is too narrow for enough blood to pass through. Blood needs to get through blood vessels to carry oxygen to different parts of the heart and the rest of the body.
How Should We Prepare for a Cardiac Stent?
Your child won't be able to eat or drink for several hours before the cardiac stent procedure. Tell the doctor about any medicines your child takes. Some might need to be stopped before the procedure. Also let the doctor know if your child has any allergies.
If your child will stay in the hospital after the procedure, bring toiletries and other items that will help the stay be comfortable.
What Happens During the Placement of Cardiac Stents?
Cardiac stents are placed during a cardiac catheterization. First, your child will get anesthesia to make them sleep during the procedure. Then:
- The cardiologist puts a long, thin tube called a catheter into a blood vessel, usually in the groin.
- The doctor guides the catheter to the heart. A special dye helps the doctor see the vessels clearly.
- The stent is crimped around a balloon, so it is very small and can fit into a small catheter.
- Using the catheter, the doctor places a stent in the vessel that needs to be held open.
- When the procedure is done, the doctor removes the instruments and the catheter, and puts a bandage on the site.
- The stent stays in to keep the vessel open, and in a few months gets covered with tissue (embedded in the vessel wall).
Can I Stay With My Child During the Cardiac Stent Procedure?
Parents cannot be in the operating room but can wait nearby during the procedure.
What Happens After the Cardiac Stent Placement?
Your child will be watched closely for several hours after the placement. A bandage on the surgical site will help keep the area from bleeding. Your child will need to stay lying down with that leg straight until the doctor says it's OK to get up, usually in 4–6 hours.
The doctor will also talk to you about:
- pain medicines
- if your child should get up and move if you have a long trip home
- when your child can eat and drink
- continuing any medicines your child was on before the procedure or starting new ones
- when to remove the bandage
- when your child can bathe
- when your child can return to school, regular activities, and sports
Are There Any Risks From Cardiac Stents?
Cardiac stents are generally safe. It's common to see bruising at the site where the catheter was inserted. Sometimes, there can be bleeding at the area.
While uncommon, damage to the blood vessel can happen and a stent can move from the correct place. Very rarely, there can be serious complications, such as a stroke or heart attack.
When Should We Call the Doctor?
Call the doctor if your child has:
- bleeding where the catheter went in
- swelling or redness that gets worse where the catheter went in
- numbness or weakness in the leg or arm
- a fever
- chest pain
- trouble breathing