The logo of the Apollo Hospitals
Image via WikipediThe next generation in devices that relieve blood vessel blocks will dissolve within a couple of years.

The Apollo Hospitals, one of the six centres in India to be part of a global trial on using drug-eluting bio-resorbable stents, are the first in Chennai to use the product.

The device works like a regular stent by restoring blood flow to a clogged vessel. It also contains a drug that is slowly released to help the healing process.

But what stands out is the fact that the stent dissolves harmlessly inside the blood vessel and restores flexibility of the affected vessel.

Mathew Samuel Kalarickal, director, Interventional Cardiology, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, during a media interaction on Tuesday said the bio-absorbable stent, which initially propped up the blood vessel, aided the healing process and, after a while, disappeared from the body.

In this aspect, it scores tremendously over the previous generation of drug-eluting stents that leave the metal support inside the blood vessel, additionally requiring the patient to be on blood-thinner drugs for life.

“Leaving a metal stent in the coronaries always was an anxiety for us, even though the medicated stent has proved its safety and efficacy. It was our wish to have a device that could provide the necessary scaffolding, deliver the medications, and dissolve without leaving any metal trace in the body,” Dr. Kalarickal said.

Abbott’s ABSORB stent is made of polylactide, a bio-compatible material being used in dissolving sutures.

Sai Satish (left), Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, and Mathew Samuel Kalarickal (right), Director, Interventional Cardiology, with patients Digvijay Ray and Rambabu Aggarwal, who have received the ABSORB stent, at a press conference in Chennai on Tuesday. Photo: V. Ganesan

The product, which was currently available for coronary vessel use only, had received the CE mark of approval in Europe and this would allow it to be marketed, Dr. Kalarickal said.

Sai Satish, consultant interventional cardiologist, Apollo Hospitals, explained that the hospital had implanted the stent successfully in two male patients with coronary artery disease, having been chosen to be part of the ABSORB EXTEND global trial to study the use of the product in about 1,000 patients at 100 centres.

To date, up to 200 patients have received the device, including 30 patients who have had the device put in four years ago.

The study showed that patients who had the stent experienced no blood clots due to the presence of the foreign body, and that the treated vessels were able to expand and contract without being restricted by a permanent implant — indicating that the device had dissolved.

Apollo Hospitals chairman Pratap Reddy said the stent was part of the group’s endeavour to use cutting-edge technology to give the best possible outcomes for coronary artery disease.

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