According to the medical guidelines, a stent is required to remove the restrictions when an artery is blocked up to 70% or more. There are series of tests which the patient may have to undergo to determine the blockage. During the procedure of stent placement, the process of angiogram gives a rough idea about the amount of blockage so formed due to the plaque in the artery.
How Long Does an Angiogram and Stent Placement Take?
A coronary stent is inserted to prop open the artery which is blocked due to the accumulation of plaque in it. An angiogram is performed to check where exactly the blocks are present and how much of the arteries are blocked. An angiogram is essentially a part of the same procedure as of the stent placement. The conventional coronary angiogram takes about 30 to 40 minutes. This is followed by stent placement which takes another 1 to 2 hours. Thus in total, the whole procedure takes about two and a half hours, although it can take longer or shorter depending on the patient’s health.
What is the Procedure Undergone in This Time Duration?
- Initially, the patient is given local anesthesia to numb the groin area or the arm. This is done because a cut is to be made on either of the two areas.
- A small tube called catheter is inserted into the artery through the cut so made. At the rear end of the catheter, a tiny inflatable balloon and a stent are attached which goes inside the artery.
- Iodine dye called the contrast medium is injected into the catheter as it goes inside. This is done to make the arteries visible on the X-ray screen. The iodine dye is radio-opaque and thus gets readily visible under the X-ray. This helps the doctors find out where exactly the blockages of the arteries are present and how severe they are. This process is called angiogram.
- The catheter is then kept passing through the coronary artery until the tip reaches the narrowed or blocked section.
- The balloon at the end of the catheter is slightly inflated so that the plaque contributing to the blockage is squashed against the wall, widening the artery.
- As the balloon is expanded, the stent is placed in the artery so that it holds onto the artery in the expanded position.
- Once the artery is widened the balloon is deflated and removed from the artery while the stent is left behind for unrestricted blood flow.
- Catheter is taken out of the body and the incision so made is closed by the doctor.
How Long Does It Take To Recover After Placing The Stent?
Generally, the patient is discharged on the same day or next day of the angioplasty or stent placement procedure. Sometimes, the patient may be kept under observation for a day or two as a precautionary measure. The incision so made may take few weeks time to heal completely. During this time, the patient is not recommended to drive, lift heavy objects or indulge in irregular movements. Within few weeks time, the patient may be good to get back to daily activities. However, few lifestyle changes need to be brought in so that the blockages in arteries do not reoccur. For this, the patient should maintain a properly balanced diet with the reduced amount of oil intake. The patient should keep the levels of cholesterol and blood pressure in check. It is recommended to remain physically fit by indulging in light exercises and brisk walking. This is generally advised to the patient in a cardiac rehabilitation program.