Surgeons at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital successfully implanted a dissolving stent in a patient with coronary artery disease recently, Cottage announced on July 19. The device allows the blood vessel walls to return to normal function — to pulse and flex — unlike the metal stents currently in use, according to a report from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The buildup of plaque, or atherosclerosis, associated with coronary artery disease often leads to blood flow complications and angina. Unblocking a blood vessel with a tiny balloon and placing a metal stent to hold it open has been the operative procedure for years. At Cottage, Dr. Michael Shenoda and Dr. Joseph Aragon had been working with the research trials for the new device since 2013.

“After a blockage in a blood vessel is cleared, it only needs support for a matter of months until the vessel heals and can stay open on its own,” Dr. Shenoda explained. The device, called Absorb and made by Abbott Vascular, takes about three years to dissolve completely. What is left behind are “two pairs of tiny metallic markers,” Dr. Shenoda added, “which help guide placement and remain in the artery to enable a physician to see where the device was placed.”


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