The interventional cardiology team at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, which is part of Baptist Hospital in Miami, Fla, is offering patients with coronary artery disease a new treatment option. It’s a stent that disappears over time.
Ramon Quesada, MD, medical director of the Structural Heart and Complex Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Programs at Miami Cardiac & Vascular implanted a patient with the world’s first FDA-approved biodegradable heart stent, or “scaffold.”
It is regarded by cardiologists as a major advance in the treatment of coronary artery disease, which affects 15 million people in the United States and remains a leading cause of death worldwide despite decades of therapeutic advances.
When the Cleveland Clinic unveiled its top 10 medical innovations for 2017 at its 4th annual Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit last October 26, bio-absorbable stents came in at No 10.
Stents are very common – about 600,000 people get them each year in the United States, and about 2 percent of people develop life-threatening blood clots at the stent site, according to the National Health-Lung and Blood Institute.
Cleveland Clinic doctors described the stents this way:
“When an artery that supplies blood to the heart muscle narrows or becomes blocked, it’s often opened with a stent. The tiny wire mesh tubes are made of metal and stay in place forever. But what if the stent just disappeared after it’s done its job?” Cleveland Clinic wrote. “Absorbable stents, already being used in Europe and recently approved by the FDA, do exactly that. The absorbable stents also appear to reduce chest pain after surgery compared with the wire option.”
The new stents are made of a naturally dissolving material, similar to degradable sutures. The stent disappears completely in about three years, after it has done its job of keeping a clogged artery open and promoting healing of the treated artery segment. Metal stents, however, are permanent implants.
“This absorbable stent is a revolutionary advancement in the treatment of coronary artery disease,” Quesada, who was the principal investigator for the stent trials at the Institute, said in a statement. “It benefits the patient by treating the diseased artery then gradually dissolving, leaving a healed artery that can pulse naturally, the way it was meant to function.”
The Miami Institute was the only South Florida medical facility to participate in the clinical trials for the new device.