A new medical technology made its Cincinnati debut this month in Butler County.
Interventional cardiologists Dr. Kevin Cochran and Dr. Dan Eckert implanted the newly commercially available bioresorbable stents in three patients Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 at Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital.
Stents are shaped like small, narrow tubes and keep blocked arteries open, promoting healing of the treated artery segment and reducing a patient’s risk of heart attack.
“Up until now, stents have been made of metal that stay in the body permanently, even after they’ve done the job of keeping the artery open” Cochran said. “For the times when the stent would grow scar tissue, a lot of time we treat it by putting another stent inside the stent.”
Now, instead of leaving the object — or objects — behind as in years past, the new stents are made of naturally dissolving material, like stitches that dissolve. Having the stent absorbed means arteries that remain open and able to pulse and flex naturally as the patient places different demands on his or her heart, Cochran said.
Not having the metal stent inside also prevents scar tissue from forming, reducing the likelihood of a heart attack or a further stent. It also give doctors a clear path in the event bypass surgery or other procedures become necessary, Cochran said.
“The fact that this will go away completely, it probably preserves most if not all of your options,” he said.
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July, the Absorb GT1 Bioresorbable Vascular Scaffold System stent is “the only fully dissolving stent approved for the treatment of coronary artery disease,” according to Illinois-based manufacturer Abbott Vascular, which developed the stent over the past 12 years.
Coronary heart disease is responsible for approximately 370,000 deaths each year in the United States, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The condition develops when cholesterol-containing deposits build up and narrow the coronary arteries, decreasing blood flow to the heart. Scar tissue can form within the stent causing the artery to narrow again.
Doctors often treat coronary artery disease with a procedure called angioplasty to widen the artery using a metal stent, which first were introduced to the medical world in 1993, according to Mike Carpenter, an executive account manager for Abbott. They were followed in 2004 by drug-eluting stents, which temporarily release a drug, typically for a few months after stent placement, to combat the formation of scar tissue.
The new stent dissolves between 18 and 36 months, Carpenter said.
“We’re also finding that after five years, the artery’s lumen size is actually larger than when we first put it in,” he said.
Fairfield Hospital is the only hospital in Cincinnati where patients can receive the stents for now, but Mercy Health-The Heart Institute’s interventional cardiologists at Anderson and West Hospitals and The Jewish Hospital will complete training and offer the procedure at those hospitals in the coming weeks.
Sureshbai Patel, 78, of Wyoming, had the new stent implanted in his circumflex artery Nov. 8 after having a traditional stent put in a right-side artery a little more than a month earlier following a heart attack.
He said it was a relief to know the device would merely dissolve inside of him instead of remaining their and becoming a possible impediment.
“I feel perfectly fine,” he said. “Everything is working out alright so far.”