The Case of the Disappearing Heart Stent


A dissolving device could become the new recommended approach for treating heart disease, and Baylor researchers are among the first to implant it.

We’ve come a long way in the treatment of heart disease. Just four decades ago, a clogged artery was a ticking time bomb, and there was little that the cardiologists could do to stop it. Today, they use minimally invasive techniques to open clogged arteries and restore blood flow, and then they place tiny metallic mesh tubes called stents that release a drug to help prevent the arteries from narrowing again.

And yet, this advanced method still has drawbacks. “Metallic stents can cause inflammation and subsequent scar tissue that can result in the renarrowing of the artery,” says David Brown, M.D., director of transcatheter valve therapy and co-director of minimally invasive valve therapy at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano.

“A small number of these procedures require additional interventional procedures as a result.”

Now you see it…

Thankfully, especially in the field of medicine, innovations never cease. A new investigational product called the Absorb™ bioresorbable vascular scaffold (BVS), made by health care company Abbot, works like a traditional metallic drug-eluting stent by opening clogged vessels and restoring blood flow. What makes it different, however, is that it dissolves over time.

The beginning of 2013 market the advent of clinical trials for this device in the United States, and Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital and The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano are among the sites participating in the trial, the first trial in the U.S. to test a BVS.

Testing, testing, 1-2-3

Initial results have been “promising,” says James W. Choi, M.D., FACC, FSCAL, director of interventional cardiology fellowship and principle investigator of the study at the Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital. But the device must be fully assessed.

“We are testing the Absorb™ device to see if the technology can offer the benefits of a traditional metallic stent, but then ultimately restore motion to the vessels once it dissolves,” Dr. Choi says.

“We’re excited and proud to be one of the first sites in North Texas to enroll patients into the trial in an effort to evaluate this new investigational technology for our patients.”

Dr. Brown, who is principal investigator of the study at The Heart Hospital, is also encouraged by the potential of his new technology.

“The Absorb™ BVS has the potential to decrease the risk of an artery renarrowing and could replace metallic stents as the recommended treatment, if the results of the trial are successful,” he says.

How can you help? Participate in a clinical trial at Baylor. Visit BaylorHealth.com/AdvancingMedicine to learn more.

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The Case of the Disappearing Heart Stent