By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Several types of stents are available for different indications. They are primarily used to keep narrowed blood vessels open and patent, to allow adequate flow of blood or bodily fluid.
Some of the different types of stents include:
Bare metal coronary stents - These are tubular, mesh-like devices that do not have any medications embedded in them.
Drug-eluting stents - These stents are coated with medications that prevent inflammation and restenosis of the artery on a long term basis.
A urinary stent is used to hold the ureter open in cases where it has narrowed. Ureters are long tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder where it is stored until the bladder is emptied. If a urinary stone forms in the ureter, the usual flow of urine from the kidney to the bladder may be obstructed which can cause damage to the kidney.
A urinary stent can be placed inside the ureter to allow the urine to flow out. Stents can be used in this way as a temporary measure to allow normal urinary function until surgery can be performed to remove the stone.
Urethral and prostatic stent
This stent is used to open up the narrowing caused by an enlarged prostate pushing against a man's urethra and preventing the normal outflow of urine. The stent helps to keep the urethra open so that urine can flow from the bladder out of the body.
Peripheral vascular stents
These are used to keep blood vessels outside the coronary arteries open.
These are tubular devices made up of special fabric that is supported by a rigid metal stent. These are mainly used for vascular surgeries, to repair abdominal aortic aneurysm for example.
Stents can also be used to keep the food pipe of the esophagus open in case of esophageal constriction and biliary stents can be used to maintain adequate drainage of bile into the intestine.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc