WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a fully-dissolving heart stent from Abbott Laboratories for the treatment of coronary artery disease.
After a procedure to help clear a clogged, narrowed artery, stents help keep an artery open as it heals. Traditional stents are made of metal and are permanent. They may also still restrict blood flow.
This new stent, called Absorb, is made of a naturally dissolving material similar to dissolving sutures and will disappear in about three years.
“The Absorb bioresorbable scaffold represents a major advance in the treatment of coronary artery disease,” said Dr. Gregg Stone, director of cardiovascular research at Columbia University Medical Center New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Although medical experts have commended this bio-absorbable option as an “important step” to treatment of clogged arteries, the Absorb stent still hasn’t shown whether or not it is safer than its older, metal counterpart. Long-term results on Absorb’s safety impact may not be apparent until 2020.
Still, more than 1,000 patients in the U.S. have been treated with the dissolving stent in clinical studies.
“This novel technology appeals to both physicians and patients alike because after treating the underlying blockage, it is completely absorbed, leaving nothing behind,” Dr. Stone added.
Coronary artery disease affects about 15 million people in the U.S.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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