For almost 30 years, coronary stents have played a major role in the surgical intervention of heart disease. The first stents were used to prop open arteries after a balloon angioplasty.
"But then we still found that some people continued to heal very aggressively and still renarrow inside," said Dr. Mauricio Cohen with the cardiovascular division of UHealth.
The next generation of stents included drugs intended to keep the artery from renarrowing, but some patients experienced delayed healing.
"The metallic part of the stent would be exposed to the bloodstream and then the bloodstream would recognize the stent as a foreign body and would cause clots," said Cohen.
Time also revealed that the metal itself limited a patient's options for future treatment, such as undergoing a heart bypass.
The latest option, a drug-eluding absorbable stent, is under investigation at the University of Miami and other clinic sites across the U.S.
"In one hand, you prevent the renarrowing of the vessel and then the stent will disappear over time," said Cohen.
The absorbable drug-eluding stents have been approved in Europe, and initial results from clinic trials in the U.S. show they may be a viable alternative for patients who don't want to live with metal inside their bodies.
Call 305-243-5050 if you're interested in the study.