Friday, December 21, 2012

Disappearing Stents?

City woman first to get dissolvable stent
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Time
In another advancement in angioplasty, Gurpreet Kaur (48) from Amritsar became first patient in Punjab to be fitted with dissolvable stents at local Fortis hospital.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, Dr Arun K Chopra, head, cardiology, Fortis hospital, said while in metallic stents patients have to take two blood thinning medicines for years, in case of dissolvable stents, Gurpreet will take just one medicine for a period of two years. "The work of the stent placed in the valve is roughly for one year. The new stent is called Bioresorbable Vascular Scaffold (BVS) and is made by Abbott Vascular, a material that remains firm for one year. In the next one to two years, it dissolves and turns into carbon dioxide and water," he said.
Chopra added that from using balloons in the 1970s, science has now evolved to using absorbable stents. "In metallic stents, which are foreign objects, artery often grows scar tissue to cover them. Since the stent is a mesh, scar tissue in the stent makes it impossible to remove and replace. White blood cells may also clog the artery and many metallic stents fail just a few months after implantation," he said.
"The soluble heart stent is designed to avoid all these problems. Dissolving into the wall of the artery, it is much less likely to cause clotting. Since it disappears in a year after it is implanted, it does not trigger the growth of scar tissue or activate the immune system," he said.
Chopra added that with this stent the patient can safely discontinue blood thinners after a certain period of time and that patient can undergo any surgery in future without any risk. 
The drug controller of India recently approved the bio-absorbable stent of multinational firm Abbott Vascular after a review of the results of a trial on 100 patients. A soluble stent will cost nearly Rs. 3 lakh while imported drug-coated permanent metallic stents cost Rs. 1.3 lakh, he added.
As of now, the facility is only available at Fortis hospitals in Amritsar and Mohali, but it will be soon be available at other hospitals. Dr Pinak Moudgil, director, and Dr HP Singh from Fortis hospital, Amritsar, were also present during the press conference.

My opinion:
I think this advancement is important for the biomedical engineering industry.  It represents that new ideas must undergo continuous improvements - everything can always be better.  Similarly, in the orthodontics industry, braces have become smaller and somewhat easier to wear over the years.  Many of these new technologies are often harmful to the patient, but I think, if proper advancements are achieved, then the patient will not only feel physically better, but psychologically, as well.  It would be easier to convince the patient to have the treatment, and he or she would worry less, afterward.  Feel free to comment.

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