Dissolving heart stent offered at Wheeling

One of the nation’s top interventional cardiologists, Dr. Triston Smith, recently performed the region’s first cardiac procedure at Wheeling Hospital using dissolving stents. — Contributed

WHEELING — The interventional cardiology team at Wheeling Hospital recently became the first in the region to offer patients with coronary artery disease a new treatment option that literally disappears over time.

Dr. Triston Smith, named among the top interventional cardiologists in the U.S., implanted a patient with the world’s first FDA-approved dissolving heart stent. The Absorb bioresorbable vascular scaffold is a major advance in the treatment of CAD, according to officials. The disease affects 15 million people in the U.S. and remains a leading cause of death worldwide despite decades of therapeutic advances.

While stents are traditionally made of metal, Abbott’s Absorb stent is made of a naturally dissolving material, similar to dissolving sutures. Absorb disappears completely in about three years, after it has done its job of keeping a clogged artery open and promoting healing of the treated artery segment. By contrast, metal stents are permanent implants and can be a hindrance if additional cardiac care is required.

“You don’t need a permanent implant to treat a temporary problem,” Smith said. “After a blockage in a blood vessel is cleared, it only needs support for a matter of months until the vessel heals and can stay open on its own. After that, the metallic stent serves no additional purpose, and can, in fact, be a hindrance. Just like a cast isn’t needed after a broken bone heals, Absorb treats the diseased artery until it heals, then gradually dissolves over time, leaving a healed artery that can flex and pulse naturally.”

The only device of its kind, Absorb has a number of unique benefits for patients, including:

¯ Allows the artery to pulse and flex naturally.

¯ Reduces the risk of future blockages that occur with metallic stents.

¯ Makes it easier for doctors to offer additional interventions in the future if necessary.

Ron Violi, Wheeling Hospital CEO, said, “The use of this new state-of-the-art device is just another example of how we remain at the forefront of cardiac care, both geographically and clinically. We congratulate our entire outstanding interventional cardiology team for being an early adopter of this novel medical technology.”

Absorb represents a major advance in the interventional treatment of coronary artery disease following balloon angioplasty in the 1970s, bare-metal stents in the 1980s and drug-eluting stents in the 2000s, officials said.

Smith is ranked by CareChex, an independent health care rating organization, as among the top 3 percent of cardiologists in nation for overall cardiac surgery, patient safety and interventional coronary care.

The Cardiac Cath Lab at Wheeling Hospital, where Smith and other cardiologists provide treatments, is an Accredited Heart Attack Receiving Center and Certified Chest Pain Center with PCI and Resuscitation.


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