What is nitinol?
Nitinol was developed by the U.S. Navy and stands for nickel titanium alloy. This metal is particularly useful for medical applications because it has thermal memory. This property allows stents to be made at a certain diameter, cooled, and then compressed onto a delivery system. When the stent is deployed at body temperature, the stent attempts to regain its original configuration and diameter. A nitinol stent that is slightly oversized (by approximately 20%) with regard to the vessel exerts an outward force to keep the vessel open as the stent attempts to regain its original diameter.