December 15th, 2010
08:36 AM ET

How long can a stent stay in the body?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. Today, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.

Question asked by Billy L. Hagler of Tennessee:

How long can a stent stay in the body? What is a sign of a stent closing up in the artery?

Expert answer:

A stent is tubular in shape and usually made of metal or ceramic. It is designed to keep a part of the coronary artery open. Coronary arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart muscle. Stents are placed through a cardiac angiogram, a procedure in which a catheter is placed in the groin and run up to the heart. An angioplasty, in which the narrowed blockage of the artery is opened with the inflation of a balloon usually, precedes the placing of the stent.

Stents were first used in the early 1980s, and some people with those original stents are still doing just fine nearly 30 years later.

Stents can develop blockages too. In recent years, drug-eluting stents have been used in some patients. Those stents are treated with drugs in an effort to decrease the risk of blockages forming. Patients who have stents are also at risk of getting additional coronary artery blockages. A regimen of aspirin therapy and control of cholesterol and triglycerides through diet, medicine or both does appear to decrease risk.

The signs of a blocked stent are the same as the signs of coronary artery blockage. An indication of such a blockage can be decreased exercise tolerance but is often angina. Angina can be a crushing chest pain, a pain that radiates down the left arm or one that goes up into the jaw. It often involves sweating. Angina can even present as a headache. Initially, angina is usually brought on with exertion and relieved with rest.

Patients who suspect they have angina should see medical personnel as soon as possible. Feeling the above described pain while at rest is described as unstable angina, which is a medical emergency. Those suspected of having it should go to an emergency room immediately.

The assessment of the coronary arteries and previously placed stents involves an exercise stress test. Very often, the venous injection of a nuclear medicine is done to assess oxygenation of the heart muscle during exercise. Those who have an abnormal stress test often get an angiogram. This test involves an X-ray opaque dye injected into the coronary arteries as X-rays are taken. The X-rays can demonstrate partial or complete blockages of the arteries and the stents in them. A blocked stent can usually be removed and replaced with angiography. Occasionally, a chest surgery known as coronary artery bypass grafting, or CABG, or bypass is needed to remove a stent and restore blood flow to the heart muscle.

Ask our expert doctors a question

soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Name*Paul

    just had a stent put in 4/3/2019 the procedure was easy , just hoping i get no blockage again

    April 4, 2019 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Tabassum Ayoub

    I want to do an angeoplasty.which stent will be better for me

    June 24, 2019 at 07:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Thurman Brown

    At age 48 (1991) I had a triple by-pass. 7 years later (1998) a stent was placed in one of the by-passes. a year later another stent in second by-pass, then 8 months later another stent in the third by-pass. 10, 11 and 12 years another stent was install in the same blocked coronary arteries. Then 18 month ago another stent in a new single artery. Now at age 75 (2019) the first stent that was installed ln 1998 was 70% blocked. They installed a new stent inside the old one. The computer info says a stent last about 4to 5 years. My oldest stent (total 8) is 21 years old.

    June 28, 2019 at 00:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Collin reddy

    Can stents be insert close to each other . What are the ramification of this . I suspect mine is close too each other . I get an unusual sound on one side while sleeping.

    August 7, 2019 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
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    December 6, 2019 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply

    What is the possible reason of fever after angioplasty stent insertion and how it could be treated?
    After how many days rest a man can start walking?

    July 9, 2020 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sanju Padmanabhan

    Sir, After 3 months stenting I am facing gas trouble which s not allowing me to sleep in the night..... what is the permenant soution? Also when could i start sexual involvement abd yave some drinjs on regular basis.

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    I have peripheral artery disease and have had stents placed in my right leg three times. I am experiencing blockage again and would like to know how often can stents be placed in your leg.

    August 14, 2020 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
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    I have a stent fitted due to an anarism in my aorta which subsequently blocked.
    Can this be removed and replaced with a new stent.

    October 20, 2020 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.