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NZ heart stent dissolves after use

11th December 2006

13122006_ped_congenital_heart_surgery.jpgDoctors in New Zealand are developing a version of a tiny widget currently used to unblock arteries which will dissolve in the bloodstream.

Researchers at the Auckland City Hospital are putting the final touches to a new type of heart 'stent' made of a polymer that dissolves in lactic acid, a natural product of exercise in the blood.

Until now, only metal stents, or mesh tubes, have been in use.

Metal stents can interfere with scanning imagery, and are responsible for late stent thrombosis, in which a clot forms against the stent.

The use of dissolving (BVS) stents is likely to make it much easier to perform further surgery on the artery if necessary.

Stents are used in angina or heart attack patients to hold open a narrowed artery.

Bioabsorbable polymers have been used in many other medical applications, such as capsules for drug delivery, dissolvable sutures and screws for securing bone.

But the BVS stent is the first to be developed using this technology.

In March 2007, six-month data from the first 30 patients will be released. If the results are promising, larger randomised trials are expected.


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