Loyola Medicine will be among the first health systems in the country to offer heart patients a new stent that is absorbed by the body once it has served its purpose.
On July 5, the Food and Drug Administration approved Absorb®, the first absorbable cardiac stent. Loyola was among the centers that participated in the pivotal clinical trial that lead to the stent's approval.
"This is the future," said Fred Leya, MD, Loyola's medical director of interventional cardiology. "The leave-nothing-behind philosophy will prevail."
A traditional stent is a tube-shaped metal scaffold that serves the vital purpose of keeping a coronary artery open following a balloon angioplasty. But after two or three months, the stent is no longer needed because the artery has healed and can remain open on its own. Once this occurs, the stent does more harm than good.
A metal stent can cause inflammation inside the blood vessel, which creates scar tissue that can narrow the artery. Metal stents also can lead to the formation of blood clots that can block an artery and trigger a heart attack. Most metal stents are drug-eluting, meaning they emit a drug that helps prevent the growth of scar tissue. This reduces, but does not eliminate the risk of restenosis (renarrowing) of a coronary artery.
The Absorb stent remains intact until the artery has healed and no longer is in danger of collapsing. After serving its purpose, the stent gradually breaks down into carbon dioxide and water. (The stent is made of the same synthetic polymer used to make absorbable sutures.)
"I think patients will demand this device once they understand the limitations of metal stents," Dr. Leya said.
More than two-thirds of patients who require stents will qualify for the Absorb stent. The device is not intended for use in arteries narrower than 2.5 mm.