Cardiologist calls new stent a game-changer

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The stent is a medical marvel that has helped save hundreds of thousands of heart patient's lives. Now some surgeons are calling a new version of the implant a game changer- that could have huge benefits for patients.

If the walls in St. Mary's Saginaw cath lab could talk, the miraculous tales they would tell, of lives saved during angioplasty. When the metal stent came on the scene 20 years ago- the miracles with this procedure multipled.

(dr. john collins/st. mary's)

"In the 90s when we started doing angiplasty, there was a high rate of occlusion, where the arteries would close suddenly. So the stents give a very predictable result. They're a metal scaffolding that goes in and holds the artery open and makes it safer to do the procedure," says surgeon, Dr. John Collins.

But, for all of its benefits, there has been a downside to the traditional, metal stent, "So for the rest of your life you have this piece of metal in your artery. and it takes a soft artery- generally your arteries move- and it can constrict, relax and bend. The stent makes it very rigid."

Dr. Collins says a new stent that the body absorbs is offering more flexibility, "The absorbed stent is a game-changer in that the stent give sthe scaffolding for safe proce4dure, however the stent begins to dissolve after about three months. So you're back to having a living, moving vessle, which isn't constricted by a metal scaffolding, like a traditional stent."

The dissolving stent has another benefit, especially for patients who may have future blockages. Collins says, it removes a complication that can come with the metal stent, should someone need a repeat procedure in the future,

"You get another stent inside of a stent. And, after you get multiple stents it begins to lose effectiveness and becomes unsafe. And there is a higher risk of complications."

Which leaves patients and surgeons with limited options, like much more invasive bypass surgery.

For more information on this new Stent, visit, Ascension Health's webpage.

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