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Lexington Medical Center Begins Offering Dissolvable Heart Stents

Lexington Medical Center has become the first hospital in the Midlands to offer patients with coronary artery disease a first-of-its-kind fully dissolving heart stent. Called the most significant advancement in cardiology since stenting began decades ago, these new stents repair clogged arteries until they heal and then gradually dissolve into the body. Lexington Medical Center implanted its first dissolvable stent in a patient on Monday, September 26, 2016.


“We are pleased to be able to offer the next generation of stent technology to our patients at Lexington Medical Center,” said Robert Malanuk, MD, FACC, cardiologist with Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. “Composed of naturally dissolving material, these stents will dissolve fully in three years. They offer clear advantages for many heart patients.”

While heart stents are traditionally metal, this new type of stent is made of naturally dissolving material, similar to dissolving sutures. Described as a vascular scaffolding system, it fully restores the artery and dissolves completely, after it has done its job of keeping a clogged artery open and promoting healing of the treated artery segment. Studies show arteries remain open and healthy for long periods of time after the stents dissolve. By contrast, metal stents are permanent implants.

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Similar to a cast on a broken bone, a clogged artery that’s been cleared only needs support for several months until it can heal and can stay open on its own. After that, a metal stent serves no additional purpose. In fact, a metal stent can hinder future cardiac interventions.

Lexington Medical Center’s cardiologists have received special training to implant these devices.

The hospital is using the Absorb GTI™ bioresorbable vascular scaffold system made by Abbott. The world’s first FDA-approved dissolving heart stent, it’s currently available in approximately 50 hospitals in the United States, including Lexington Medical Center.

Patients must meet specific criteria to be eligible for a dissolvable stent. Factors include anatomy, the makeup of the lesion, size of the artery and degree of calcification.

Coronary artery disease affects 15 million people in the United States and remains a leading cause of death around the world. It occurs when fat, cholesterol and other things in the blood build up in arteries, causing the heart to not get enough blood and oxygen.

There are three stent options for blocked arteries. The first is bare metal stents, developed in the 1980’s. The second is drug-eluting stents, developed in the early 2000’s, which are coated with medicine that helps to prevent the artery from narrowing again. The third option is now dissolvable stents; like drug-eluting stents, dissolvable stents also have medicine to halt the growth of plaque in the artery.

Lexington Medical Center is committed to offering comprehensive cardiovascular care. Heart disease is an epidemic in South Carolina. One out of every three people in our state dies from cardiovascular disease. In fact, more people die from heart disease than all forms of cancer combined. For more information on cardiovascular care at Lexington Medical Center, visit

Real Men Get Breast Cancer

Rodney Harmon is a man’s man. The former high school running back coordinates quality control at Element Electronics in Winnsboro, walking the manufacturing floor with a confident smile. He shows off photos of his three sons, equally enthusiastic about their academic accomplishments and prowess on the gridiron. He works out regularly and often enjoys throwing the football with his son Noah at Caughman Road Park in Hopkins.

Rodney and his son Noah

Rodney and his son Noah

So it’s only natural that his cancer came to light after a bench press bar hit him in the chest. When his left side continued to ache long after the injury should have healed, he moved his annual physical up six months to get it checked out.

“My doctor felt something there. He said, ‘it’s probably nothing,’ — but if I wanted to get it looked at I could,” Rodney said.

Men account for one in every 100 diagnosed cases of breast cancer. While the incidence is much lower in men than women, few know that men are 10 times more likely to die from the disease than women.

But Rodney, 43 at the time, knew he had a family history of breast cancer. His mother, grandmother and grandfather had breast cancer, and all were diagnosed at fairly young ages.
That awareness made a trip to Lexington Medical Center’s breast imaging center a top priority. After the mammogram revealed a suspicious lesion, Rodney received an ultrasound and then a biopsy. The next day, he got the call confirming a stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis. His first call was to his wife Yvette.

“She was stunned to say the least,” he said.

Rodney and Yvette took their sons Sterling, Jordan and Noah out to dinner to break the news. With two children in college and one in middle school, they were concerned about how it would rock the boys emotionally and affect school performance.

Rodney and Noah tossing the football at Caughman Road Park in Hopkins

Rodney and Noah tossing the football at Caughman Road Park in Hopkins

“They had already seen what happens with breast cancer, because of my mother,” Rodney said. “It was almost like I was sitting down and telling them I only have so many months to live. So for me, it became a matter of trying to stay positive and strong. If they see you break down, they break down.”

Rodney’s son Noah was 11 at the time of the diagnosis. The Dent Middle School student remembers crying and worrying that his dad would die. Today, he feels much better and has advice to other children with a parent who has cancer.

“Don’t give up early,” Noah said. “Always pray for whoever it is who has cancer.”

Determined to minimize the impact, Rodney returned to work only a week after surgery. “The important thing for me was getting back to normal,” he said. “Cancer is a disease that if you think you’re beaten, you’re beaten. But I know that with the right mindset, you can get through anything. If your thought process is, ‘this is just a bump in the road,’ and you keep moving, then everything will be all right.”

Myron Barwick, MD, FACS

Myron Barwick, MD, FACS

Rodney’s surgeon was Myron Barwick, MD, FACS, of Lexington Surgical Associates, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

“There isn’t a lot of publicity about men having breast cancer, but it does happen and should not be a surprise, Dr. Barwick said. “Men should talk to their doctor about any abnormal lump in the breast just like women do.”

The surgery left a long scar that shows when Rodney works out. “For a little while, you feel disfigured when you go through something like that. But I had a 10-year-old kid with a brain tumor who was looking at my scar, and he said, ‘you look like a superhero.’ If he can say that, then I’m not going to feel bad about it.”

Rodney’s cancer was hormone-receptor positive, like 88 percent of breast cancer cases. That requires him to take estrogen-suppressing medication for five years — resulting in the hot flashes and weight gain women often experience. “I know what that’s all about now,” he said.

Like many women with breast cancer, Rodney found support from co-workers and friends. And far from hiding his experience, Harmon leverages his status. He meets with newly diagnosed men for lunch to talk and answer questions. And he was the only man invited to model in the fashion show at Lexington Medical Center’s Women’s Night Out, the hospital’s annual breast cancer event that honors cancer survivors and their families.

“If it’s going to raise awareness, then my answer is ‘yes,’” he said.

Rodney advises men to get a physical every year as a precaution.

“A real man is one who is not afraid to get checked out, and if something is wrong, not afraid to tell people about it,” he said. “I’m blessed. I’m walking above ground and not lying below it. In the grand scheme of things, everything that happens to you is a chance to learn and help the next person.”

It’s Our Fight, Too

When it comes to treating cancer, Lexington Medical Center believes “It’s Our Fight, Too.” Our multidisciplinary team of clinicians works together to diagnose and treat cancer with state-of-the-art technology. Learn about our cancer program and read the inspiring stories of our patients in this special newspaper section below.

For more information on Lexington Medical Center’s cancer program, visit