SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Clinical trials with a stent that delivers drugs to arteries, helps them heal, and then dissolves showed it is as effective as a permanent metallic stent, according to the company developing the device.
Researchers said a dissolving stent would allow an artery to fully function naturally and, if future treatment is needed, doctors would not be limited by the presence of a permanent implant.
The dissolving stent, called the Absorb, is manufactured by Abbott, the same company that also makes a widely-used permanent stent called Xience. Both stents deliver drugs to arteries to help them heal.
"Naturally dissolving heart stents are the next revolution in percutaneous coronary intervention, and Absorb is leading the way as an innovative option," said Dr. Dean Kereiakes, a professor of clinical medicine at Ohio State University, in a press release. "Absorb does its job and then restores the vessel to its natural state over time, which cannot be achieved with a permanent drug eluting stent."
Researchers in the trial treated 1,322 coronary artery disease patients with Absorb and 686 patients with Xience. A similar number of patients experienced target lesion failure -- 7.8 percent of Absorb patients and 6.1 percent of Xience patients. There also was no great difference in patients who experienced cardiac death, myocardial infarction, and ischemia-driven target-lesion revascularization.
A trial in China showed similar results, as have other studies including more than 13,000 patients Abbott plans to present at the annual Transcatheter CarBdiovascular Therapeutics conference. Although Absorb is already in use in 100 countries, both the United States and China have yet to approve the stent for widespread use with patients.
"Because Absorb leaves nothing behind it may provide significant long-term benefits, such as a restored vessel in a natural state and renewed possibilities for people treated with Absorb," said Dr. Charles Simonton, chief medical officer and divisional vice president for medical affairs at Abbott.
The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.