The next generation of stents

MCR heart patients with coronary artery blockages are among the first in the country to have access to a stent that dissolves when it’s no longer needed
March 20, 2016

UCHealth heart patients at Medical Center of the Rockies with coronary artery blockages are among the first in the country to have access to a new bioresorbable stent that dissolves when it’s no longer needed.

MCR and Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs are part of a clinical trial that has shown in its first year that bioresorbable stents perform comparably to the most effective drug-coated stents commonly used today, said UCHealth cardiologist and site primary investigator Dr. Anthony Doing.

“This is the next generation of stents,” he said.

The device has had European approval since 2011 and is available in more than 100 countries but is awaiting Food and Drug Administration approval in the United States. Doing expects that to happen in the next six to nine months.

A stent is a small tube placed inside a narrow or weak coronary artery, allowing it to again efficiently channel blood throughout the heart’s four chambers. Most current stents are made of metal; the bioresorbable stent is made from a fully resorbed material known as Poly-L-lactide, which is similar to the material used in dissolving sutures.

The drug coating on stents prevents scar tissue from building up in the stent. When placed in the artery, a drug-coated stent does a great job keeping the passage open for blood to flow, with only a 5 percent closure rate within the first year, Doing said. Because the artery has demonstrated it will remain open after about a year with the assistance of a stent, the stent itself appears to become unnecessary. The permanent stent increases the future risk of blood clots in that area.

A patient with traditional stents must take a daily dose of baby aspirin, or other blood thinners, for life to prevent such clots.

stent size
This bioresorbable stent is made from a fully resorbed material and dissolves when it’s no longer needed.

The ABSORB  Bioresorbable Vascular Scaffold stent, in its first year of trial results, has shown to match up to the performance of the drug-coated stents for keeping the vessel open, but the new stents dissolve completely after two to three years.

“They’ve improved the stent design, and the potential benefit is there is less of a risk down the line if it becomes necessary for a patient to stop taking aspirin because of other health issues or concerns.”

UCHealth Heart Center at Medical Center of the Rockies is currently the only access patients have to the absorbable stent in northern Colorado, Doing said. The trial not only compares traditional clinical endpoints between the two stents, such as readmissions and continuing pain, but also quality of life over five years.

This trial is just one example of how UCHealth provides its patients with the most cutting-edge health care, Doing said. For more information on research and trials, contact UCHealth Heart Center at 970.624.1680

About the author

Kati Blocker has always been driven to learn and explore the world around her. And every day, as a writer for UCHealth, Kati meets inspiring people, learns about life-saving technology, and gets to know the amazing people who are saving lives each day. Even better, she gets to share their stories with the world.

As a journalism major at the University of Wyoming, Kati wrote for her college newspaper. She also studied abroad in Swansea, Wales, while simultaneously writing for a Colorado metaphysical newspaper.

After college, Kati was a reporter for the Montrose Daily Press and the Telluride Watch, covering education and health care in rural Colorado, as well as city news and business.

When she's not writing, Kati is creating her own stories with her husband Joel and their two young children.