Stretching Artery-Opening Stents Deemed Safe

Ensuring snug fit in vessel won't compromise patient outcomes

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WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- Stretching the diameter of special drug-emitting, artery-opening stents won't weaken the stent or increase risks for artery re-closure, say Italian researchers.

Stents are tiny mesh devices used to prop open narrowed arteries. In recent years, new drug-eluting (emitting) stents have improved cardiac care, since they contain medicines that help prevent the vessel from re-narrowing.

One key factor in the success of any stent is how snugly it fits within the artery. In some cases, surgeons may stretch the diameter of the device beyond its intended size. But does this adjustment compromise stent strength or effectiveness?

In their study, researchers in Milan followed 254 patients whose diseased coronary arteries were treated with a drug-eluting stent. In 168 of the patients, the stent was extended to its intended 3 millimeter diameter. In the other 86 patients, the stent had to be extended to between 3.5 and 4 millimeters.

The researchers say they found no difference between the two groups in long-term rates of serious cardiac illness or restenosis -- a build up of scar tissue that can eventually re-block the artery.

"The need to overdilate a stent is frequently present when the artery is larger than the stent balloon system. It is important to know that such a procedure is not deleterious," investigator Dr. Antonio Colombo, of EMO Centro Cuore Columbus, said in a prepared statement.

The study appears in the February issue of the journal Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about stents.

SOURCE: Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, news release, Jan. 28, 2005

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