Difference between Stent and Pacemaker

Key Difference: A stent is a small metal or plastic tube that has a mesh like pattern. It is placed in blocked or narrowed arteries that are obstructing blood flow. The stent then keeps the artery open which allows the blood to flow unrestricted. A pacemaker is a type of medical device which uses electrical impulses that is inserted under the skin either in the chest or abdomen. It uses these electrical impulses to contract the heart muscles and thus helps regulate the beating of the heart.

StentBoth Stent and Pacemaker are medical devices that are used for heart patients. However, the manner in which they are used, and the purpose they serve are completely different.

A stent is a small metal or plastic tube that has a mesh like pattern. It is placed in blocked or narrowed arteries that are obstructing blood flow. The stent then keeps the artery open which allows the blood to flow unrestricted. While stents are commonly associated with arteries, they are also used in other passageways that may be affected by blockages. For example, a ureteral stent may be used to allow unobstructed urine flow especially in the case of a compromised ureter.

A stent is primarily used to keep pathways that are affected by blockages, open. In most cases, they allow the patient to return to a regular life. In cases of a blocked artery, the stent is primarily inserted via a coronary angioplasty, which requires a small incision to be made and a catheter with the stent in inserted to the blocked area via the help of a guide wire. This is a minor procedure that is fairly safe. However, there is a slight risk of inflammation and infection setting in which is usually addressed with a round of antibiotics.

There are many different types of stents available on the market, such as bare-metal stent, a drug-eluting stent, a bioabsorbable stent, a dual-therapy stent, or a covered stent. Each one has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. A doctor should be able to advise the patient as to which one would be best suited for their condition.

A pacemaker, on the other hand, is a completely different medical device that serves a completely different purpose. A pacemaker is a type of medical device which uses electrical impulses that is inserted under the skin either in the chest or abdomen. It uses these electrical impulses to contract the heart muscles and thus helps regulate the beating of the heart.

People who suffer from irregular heartbeats or from arrhythmia are generally recommended to get a pacemaker, as it helps maintain an adequate heart rate, when the heart's natural pacemaker is not fast enough, or because there is a block in the heart's electrical conduction system.

PacemakerThe insertion of the pacemaker requires a minor surgery, in which an incision is made and the pacemaker is inserted under the skin. The electrodes of the pacemaker must then be inserted with the heart ventricles, i.e. lower chambers. It is these electrodes that deliver the electrical impulses. The surgery is conducted either under general anesthesia or local anesthesia.

The pacemaker is powered by batteries, which typically run between 5 and 15 years. On average, these batteries last 6 to 7 years, depending on the make and model, as well as on how active the pacemaker is.

It should be noted that in certain cases inserting a stent may lead to the development of an arrhythmias, which may or may not require the usage of a pacemaker. Other than in cases, such as these the two are completely different and are used for different medical conditions.

Comparison between Stent and Pacemaker:

 

Stent

Pacemaker

Description

A small metal or plastic tube with a mesh like pattern

A medical device which uses electrical impulses and runs on batteries

Purpose

To open up a blocked or narrow artery.

To allow the heart to maintain a regular heartbeat rhythm

Associated with

Blockages in arteries and other passageways, stroke, heart attack, prostatic hypertrophy, etc.

Irregular heartbeat, arrhythmia, etc.

Inserted via

Coronary angioplasty

Small Surgery using either local anesthetic or a general anesthetic.

Risk

Low Risk

Slightly higher risk, as it is a minor surgery

Age

Once a stent is there, it is in there. However, a blockage can redevelop where the stent is placed

Pacemaker batteries last between 5 and 15 years (average 6 to 7 years), depending on how active your pacemaker is.

Reference: Wikipedia (Stent and Pacemaker), WebMD, NIH (1, 2, 3), Medicinenet
Image Courtesy: webmd.com, medlineplus.gov

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