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Getting a Stent Placed in the Cath Lab

What is a stent?

Your doctor has decided that a stent may help your child. A stent is a small, wire frame that holds open the sides of a blood vessel, a little bit like a scaffold. When the stent is put in place, it keeps the soft sides of the blood vessel from squeezing back down and getting in the way of blood flow.

How is the stent placed?

  • The stent is put in place during a cardiac catheterization by stretching it up against the walls of the blood vessel with a balloon. For information about the balloon procedure, please read the Way to Grow Healthy Fact sheet “Having a Balloon Dilation in the Cath Lab”.
  • The stent itself is very thin, and is squeezed onto the balloon before it is put in the body.
  • The stent can be seen on x-ray, and when it is in the right place the balloon is blown up. This stretches the stent to open the blood vessel, and then the balloon is taken out.
  • After the stent is open, it is stiff enough to stay in that position. If needed, the doctor can sometimes make the stent even bigger a few years later as the person grows.

How long will my child have the stent?

The stent will always stay in the body, unless it is taken out during heart surgery. After a few months, the body tissues grow over the stent completely enclosing it in the vessel. It is made of a special metal, and won’t set off metal detectors.

Will my child be able to feel the stent?

After a stent is put in, your child won’t be able to feel it. He/she may feel better because the blood flows more freely through the tight area.

What happens after the procedure?

A person usually spends one night in the hospital after a stent is put in, and goes home the next morning after having an echocardiogram and being seen by the doctor.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 02/05