A stent is a small, mesh-like device made of metal. When a stent is placed inside of a coronary artery, it acts as a support or scaffold, keeping the vessel open. By keeping the vessel open, the stent helps to improve blood flow to the heart muscle and reduce the pain of angina. Stent procedures are usually used along with balloon angioplasty. In fact, about 80% of patients who have balloon angioplasty will have a stent placed as well.
Just like with balloon angioplasty, doctors are now using stents in many other parts of the body—not just the heart. Stents can also be placed in the carotid arteries in the neck, in the aorta, and in the peripheral arteries in the legs.