Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Oct 22 14:15:01 UTC 2002

There were other kinds of stents before coronary artery stents: it seems to
me that (e.g.) ureteral stents have been used and so named since pre-1980
but I may be misremembering.

The word in this sense ("tube") seems to be relatively new, and I don't
know whether the etymology is firm. M-W Collegiate (Web) doesn't show the
word at all; OED on-line apparently doesn't either (although it may be that
the word is an extension of the word for a mold for tissue grafting, OED's
n.(5)). RHUD and AHD4 show it.

There is a spelling and pronunciation alternative "stint" which in my
experience is a minority variant ... but maybe it's the majority variant in
some specialties or geographic regions. This explains the pronunciation
/stInt/ by non-mergers. Possibly the variant "stint" exists by virtue of
early use by merging folks, though, especially if the etymology is truly
from an English dentist's surname Stent. M-W Third shows both "stent" and
"stint" (1961) in reference to a mold.

There is a verb form [e.g. "stent the artery", "stent the ureter"] which is
reminiscent of the Scots verb "stent" meaning
"stretch"/"fix"/"stiffen"/"distend", so I wonder whether the etymology is
really clear. Maybe the medical use started as "I'll stent the duct with
this catheter to avoid anastomotic stricture" or so, and then the catheter
was called a stent, independent of the earlier use with reference to a mold
or a tissue impression? (Just wild conjecture.)

-- Doug Wilson

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