NTUH unveils dissolving stent for cardiac patients
By Joy Lee ,The China Post
June 14, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) introduced bio-absorbing stents for cardiac patients who require angioplasty, which will disappear after about two to three years and leave only harmless water and carbon dioxide in the patients' bodies.
According to statistics, there are about 40,000 cardiac patients in Taiwan who are in need of stent implants to remove blockages in their hearts.
However, NTUH cardiologist Kao Hsien-li (高憲立) said that regular stents are like scaffolds, made out of metals that cannot be absorbed by human bodies.
"The metal stents tend to obstruct the healing of vascular walls that will cause thrombosis and reduce the flexibility of blood vessels," said Kao. "If the cardiac patients require a second treatment, it will be hard for doctors to implant a new stent inside the heart."
According to the NTUH, 34 cardiac patients joined an international clinical test of the bio-absorbing stent in 2012 and, after 15 months of monitoring, the stents disappeared completely and the blood vessels remained unobstructed after the treatments.
Hwang Juey-jen (黃瑞仁), a physician from the National Taiwan University Hospital Cardiology Department, said that it will require three months to stabilize the blood vessels, which can provide a six-month long period of support within the vessels.
Kao said that coronary artery heart disease patients have to take medicines that will avoid thrombosis regardless of what kind of stents that are implanted in their hearts.
"Patients who use bio-absorbing stents will not experience anginapectoris as often as those who use other types of stents," said Kao. "It is probably because there are no obstacles stopping the blood vessels from bouncing back to their original condition."
According to the NTUH, patients who use metal stents have a 20-percent chance of experiencing blockages in their hearts again while only 3 percent of patients who use bio-absorbing stents will experience the same condition.
Kao said that the bio-absorbing stent is an ideal medical material, but the National Health Insurance does not cover the expense. Therefore, patients who are in need of the bio-absorbing stent will pay about NT$120,000 to NT$130,000 for the implants.
A 74-year-old man surnamed Liu said that he had one metal stent implanted, but it gave him anginapectoris from time to time and he could not catch his breath after climbing to the second floor.
However, after the doctors implanted five bio-absorbing stents into his heart two years ago, he can climb to the fourth floor without any physical issues and he can also pass the treadmill electrocardiography exam now.