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.
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 LexMed.com/Heart.