First dissolvable stent for blocked arteries now in area

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St. Mary is the first hospital in the area using a stent which dissolves into CO2 and water for blocked arteries. (WPVI)

There's a new tool to treat blocked arteries.

It's a type of stent, but unlike other stents, this one dissolves in your body over time.

"Right in here - 99 percent blocked," said Dr. Ronald Fields, medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization Labs at St. Mary Medical Center, as he looks at film of a recent heart patient.

For decades, Dr. Fields has opened blocked heart arteries like that with stents.

The tiny tubes expand to hold the vessel open and restore blood flow to the heart.

For years, metal stents, even drug-coated ones, ran some risk of scar tissue or blood clots, so many patients have to take blood thinners for years.

Now, St. Mary is the first in the area to get a stent which dissolves in the body.

Like a traditional stent, it's inserted into a blocked vessel with a balloon and catheter.

But over time, the Absorb GT1 stent breaks down into carbon dioxide and water.

"Most of it's gone in the six to 12 month frame, and that's all you need it for. That's when it's doing the job preventing recoil, holding the vessel open," notes Dr. Fields.

He says that allows most patients to come off most blood thinners after about a year.

And the new device enables vessels to expand and contract naturally, as the need for more blood rises and falls.

"When you're exercising, your vessels normally dilate, wherever there's a stent, they cannot. With these, they will be able to," he says.

The FDA just approved the absorbable stent in July.

But St. Mary has used it since 2013 in clinical trials.

For more information on the stent, CLICK HERE.

For more on St. Mary's work with the stent, CLICK HERE.
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