Stents are marvelous inventions. Resembling the little spring you find in a ballpoint pen they are made from a mesh of metal that looks like a tube of linked fencing. Stents can be used to reopen clogged veins and arteries. Or they can deliver a heart valve as was the case with my daughter four years ago. Some stents are medicated so that they deliver timed-release doses of medication to help blood vessels heal.
But Absorb is the first stent to be made from plastic. And not just any plastic but a bioresorbable one that dissolves after six months. For the body’s immune system and for healing purposes this becomes an ideal tool for use in treating coronary artery disease. With Absorb dissolving over time the natural blood vessel can function normally.
Absorb has undergone a three-year clinical trial and this summer the results were presented to the American College of Cardiology at its 62nd annual convention. In 45 of 101 patients Absorb showed improvements in blood vessel movement and function. They also showed reductions in plaque buildup in areas where the stent was placed. With metal stents blood vessel movement and function can be impaired. And plaque buildup can occur where metal stents are implanted leading to the need for additional procedures to clear the blockages.
This is a big deal and we may see Absorb replace metallic stents as the technology of choice for non-invasive cardiac catheterization repair procedures.