Healthy Living NT

Cardiac Stenting in the Top End

24/04/2015 Written by Krystal Matthews, Cardiac Educator, Darwin

In February 2014 the first percutaneous coronary intervention was performed in the NT. This procedure is more commonly know as ‘Stenting’.

It is one of the most utilised interventions in the world to treat coronary artery disease (heart attack or angina). Stenting is a non-surgical procedure performed under x-ray imaging. The cardiologist feeds a guide wire with a deflated balloon through a small tube inserted into the femoral or the radial artery until it reaches the artery in the heart which has the blockage. At the blockage site the balloon is inflated, this pushes the blockage (plaque) into the walls of the artery. Once this is done the guide wire with the deflated balloon is removed. Next a second guide wire with a small mesh tube (the stent) is inserted to permanently leave the artery open, restoring blood flow. The stent is left behind in the artery and the guide wire is removed.

The remoteness of Darwin has prevented this procedure from occurring in previous years due to concerns regarding serious complications. Currently the risk of major procedural complications is uncommon in low risk clients. Darwin is only stenting people with low risk at this time. The eligibility of having this procedure done in Darwin is determined by the cardiac team using evidence based guidelines. Although not every person requiring a stent in the Top End will have it done in Darwin, it is projected that up to 600 Territorians over the next four years will avoid interstate travel and have their stent inserted in Darwin. 

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