It could be a game-changer for heart patients: a stent that opens up a clogged artery and then eventually dissolves back into the body.
For decades, doctors have been treating blockages of fat and cholesterol in arteries with things like balloon angioplasty and metallic and drug-eluting stents, which push the blockages out of the way and restore blood flow.
That’s great, but metal stents stay behind and can cause issues. “Patients with several metal stents in one area of an artery may have no choice but open heart surgery,” said Dr. Robert Merritt, Mercy cardiologist and our site’s principal investigator.
Not so with the Absorb stent, which is referred to as a bioresorbable vascular scaffold. It’s a small mesh tube made from polylactide, a material commonly used for things like dissolvable stitches. “This stent basically evaporates from the body and patients can get another stent in the future,” Dr. Merritt explained.
Mercy began blind trials of the Absorb stent back in 2013. Since then, Dr. Merritt has implanted more than 40 patients with the device, with good results. So many patients from here enrolled in the trial, Mercy’s data concerning safety and patient results figured greatly into the FDA’s approval of the device.
As doctors in other facilities across the country now begin to learn to use the newly-approved device, Mercy Springfield already has an in-house expert, and our patients are already benefitting from the technology.