Stents are metal or fabric tubes inserted in weakened arteries in the body to hold the arteries open to restore normal blood flow (Stoller & Meng, 2007). Stents are more popularly and commonly associated with weakened coronary arteries resolved with cardiac surgeries, but there are also other types of stents used in non-cardiac surgeries. The proceeding sections contain a succinct description and application of different types of non-cardiac stents.
Ureters that are weakened by blockage caused by malignancies in the pelvic area or presence of kidney stones require stenting (Stoller & Meng, 2007). Ureteral stenting can be used as an independent treatment to heal the ureters. Moreover, stents can be placed as a temporary prophylactic technique to prevent further complications while waiting for the operations such as sound wave lithotripsy to remove the stones in patients with renal calculi (Stoller & Meng, 2007).
The most common function of biliary stents is to alleviate the obstruction of the biliary tree in patients with biliary obstruction. There are three common types of biliary stent which include plastic stents and covered or uncovered self-expandable metal stents (Thomas & Fuller, 2009). These stents are used in palliative care only and are not aimed at healing the arteries. They are designed to make the biliary arteries patent again, though the restored patency of the biliary artery is not permanent.
Esophageal cancer is the most common indication for use of esophageal stents. Esophageal cancer causes dysphagia or difficulty of swallowing, which can be easily relieved by placement of stents in the esophagus (Shields, 2009). This stent placement will allow the person to restore normal swallowing and consequently, reestablish proper nutrition in the patient. Esophageal stents can also be used in other conditions not just to dilate the esophagus but also to prevent reflux of gastric acid in the esophagus, which prevents further damage to the esophageal wall (Sharma & Sampliner, 2006).
Similar with other disease conditions, inflammation in the pancreas can cause severe obstruction of the pancreatic duct. This condition can be relieved by placement of a stent. Stents will restore the patency in the duct, which will reduce the pressure in the pancreas and relieve the hypertension or inflammation in the organ (Forsmark, 2005). Moreover, placement of stents in the pancreatic ducts result in the alleviation of pain experienced by patients associated with this condition (Forsmark, 2005).
Stents are very useful and cost-effective in restoring patency of obstructed arteries, ducts, and organs in the body. As a result, symptoms associated with these conditions are relieved. Even though stents do not promise permanent treatment of the condition, it allows temporary remission of the symptoms caused by the obstruction of these parts of the body.
Forsmark, C. E. (2005). Pancreatitis and its complications. New Jersey: Humana Press
Sharma, P. & Sampliner, R. E. (2006). Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma. Massachusetts: Wiley-Blackwell
Shields, T. W. (2009). General Thoracic Surgery. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Stoller, M. L. & Meng, M. V. (2007). Urinary stone disease: The practical guide to medical and surgical management. New Jersey: Humana Press
Thomas, C. R. & Fuller, C. D. (2009). Biliary tract and gallbladder cancer: Diagnosis and therapy. New York: Demos Medical Publishing