Vein Stenting Risks
Vein stenting is gaining more popularity and is being used more often to treat specific diseases and narrowing of the veins, typically within the legs. Although vein stenting is a minimally invasive procedure, there are still potential risks that may be associated with this procedure.
In order to understand more about the risks of stenting, it is important to understand how the procedure is performed and what type of conditions that are typically treated through venous stenting.
About the Vein Stenting Procedure
A venous stent is placed in a setting where mild sedation is used, which is usually in a hospital or surgical center setting and people are usually discharged the same day. A small incision is made in the skin at the area of the vein in question. A catheter is threaded inside the vein, which is guided with special imaging and uses a balloon to open the vein. The metal stent is then positioned at the narrowed or diseased part of the vein. The catheter is then removed and a small dressing is placed.
Why are Stents Used?
Stents are known most frequently for their use in the heart with blockages of the coronary arteries, but there are several different conditions of the veins that may lead to the need for venous stenting.
Conditions that may be treated with a stent:
- Deep Venous Thrombosis, or DVT, is a blood clot that forms within the veins in the leg. This clot may block the vein and prevent proper blood flow.
- Post-thrombotic syndrome is a condition in which the vein becomes damaged from a DVT that has formed. The damage leads to scarring that narrows the vein.
- May Thurner Syndrome and Nutcracker syndrome both affect the arteries, but by default also compress the neighboring veins that lead to collapse and narrowing.
- Arteriovenous fistulas are used in patients on hemodialysis due to kidney failure. If the vein begins to narrow, a stent may be placed in order to keep the fistula operational for hemodialysis.
Main Risks of Vein Stenting Includes:
Despite venous stenting being a minimally invasive procedure, there still may be risks with this type of procedure. Many of the risks are similar to other medical procedures and some are specific to venous stenting.
- Infection may occur anytime there is an opening from the outside of the body and instruments are used. Even though the skin is thoroughly cleaned and instruments are sent through a specific sterilization process or even used only once for the procedure and are sterile, there is still risk for infection.
- Bleeding, as this is a procedure that opens into a vessel. Bleeding is typically minimal, but there can be increased blood loss if there is a lot of damage to the vein or any nearby blood vessels.
- Movement of the stent can occur over time, with the stent moving from the intended location, up the vessel.
- Reaction to the material in the stent, although this is rare, due to the type of metal that the stents are fabricated.
- Failure of the stent, as there is continued narrowing in the blood vessel, despite placement of the stent.
Meet ABMS Board Certified Surgeon, Dr. Mackay
It is important to understand the procedure and the potential risks of the procedure prior to making decisions on this being the right treatment option. In order to learn about other potential risks or if there is potential for a higher risk, based on your history, please visit with your physician.