Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Improved `Stent' Device Eases Artery Procedure New Models Are Tested in Fight against Heart Disease

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Improved `Stent' Device Eases Artery Procedure New Models Are Tested in Fight against Heart Disease

Article excerpt

The device is tiny, just large enough to fit inside an artery, but in the war against heart disease, it's big medicine.

Mesh-like cylinders called "stents" have been used for years to help keep clogged coronary arteries open. But researchers at St. Louis University Medical Center are testing a new version that requires only about 45 minutes to insert.

"Because it is more flexible, it can be placed in arteries that have bends and curves that previously were not suitable for current stent technology," said Dr. Frank Aguirre, a cardiologist at St. Louis University Hospital. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two types of stents, both made of stainless steel. The model doctors are testing at St. Louis University - called a RADIUS stent - is made of a new metal called nintinol; it doesn't require a "balloon" insertion. Until now, stents could only be deployed during a procedure in which a balloon-tip catheter inflates to dilate the artery. A stainless steel stent is placed over the balloon; once the balloon is inflated, the stent locks in place and forms a rigid support to hold the artery open. The new stent can be inserted directly into the artery, said Aguirre. "It comes in a sheath, and when you pull it back, it self-expands," he said. "It looks like spring coils and just pops into action." The new metal composition shows up better on X-rays, which helps doctors insert the device into clogged arteries. Aguirre says St. Louis University is one of only two centers in the Midwest and the only one in Missouri using this new stent technology. "The biggest advantage . . . is that it can keep arteries open longer than the stents that are used with the balloon," said Aguirre. About 400 patients have received the new stent in the United States, including 10 at St. Louis University; among these was Roy Brown, 65. He's had one heart attack and about four weeks ago started to have serious chest pains. "I had burning in my chest, and I had had angioplasty before, so I knew I had a blockage," said Brown, who is from Perryville, Mo. …

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