ETMC first in Texas to deploy new treatment for blocked heart vessels

July 21, 2016

An East Texas woman became the first in Texas to receive the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved bioresorbable vascular scaffold—similar to a stent except it eventually dissolves.

content-news-cardiac-first-stentDr. Robert Smith with Tyler Cardiovascular Consultants performed the procedure at the ETMC Cardiovascular Institute in Tyler. The FDA approved the use of the device on July 5.

East Texas cardiologists were also the first in Texas to implant the device at ETMC when it was part of a clinical trial in 2013.

Manufactured by Abbott, the Absorb scaffold is a small mesh tube that is designed to open a blocked heart vessel, restore blood flow to the heart and then dissolve into the blood vessel over time.

“This Absorb scaffold serves the same function as a traditional metallic stent; however over the course of time it dissolves and is reabsorbed into the body,” said Dr. Robert Carney, with Tyler CVC, who was the clinical trial principal investigator. “This is truly revolutionary. In effect, the scaffold has the potential to completely repair the blocked artery and then disappear as though it were never there.”

Coronary artery disease, or CAD, is a leading cause of death for men and women. Patients with CAD can experience symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath when the demand for blood by the heart is more than the heart’s ability to supply blood due to blockages in the coronary arteries, the vessels that carry blood to the heart muscle. These blockages are caused by the build-up of fat and cholesterol inside the vessel.

Since the 1980s, physicians have treated patients with CAD with balloon angioplasty, bare metal and drug-coated metallic stents. About a decade ago, scientists at Abbott started development of Absorb.

Unlike a metallic stent that remains permanently in the body, Absorb is referred to as a scaffold to indicate that it is a temporary structure. Absorb is made of a naturally dissolvable material that is commonly used in medical implants such as dissolving sutures. The Absorb dissolves leaving a pair of tiny metallic markers, which help guide placement and remain in the artery to enable a physician to see where the device was placed.

Each year, about 785,000 Americans have a first heart attack. Another 470,000 who have already experienced one or more heart attacks will have another. Heart disease accounts for one of every six deaths that take place in the U.S.