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Non-Stick Teflon Stents Saving Lives

They resist reclosure as they prop open arteries, study finds

TUESDAY, May 17, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Frying pans, spatulas and artery-opening devices called stents may soon have something in common: Teflon.

Coating these tiny mesh tubes with the compound appears to improve the ability of stents to keep blood vessels open after implantation in liver cirrhosis patients, according to a Dutch study.

In an operation called transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS), surgeons place a stent between the portal and hepatic veins of the liver. This simple procedure redirects blood flow around cirrhosis-linked scar tissue and other obstructions.

TIPS also helps prevent portal hypertension, an increase in blood pressure caused by scar obstructions. Over time, however, the stents used in TIPS degrade.

But new research out of Leiden University Medical Center, in the Netherlands, suggests that stents coated with Teflon (polytetrafluorotheylene) could help prevent that decline in effectiveness.

In the study, 93 patients underwent the cirrhosis surgery using either coated or non-coated stents.

Coated stents were better able to keep the blood vessels open for 30 days, three months and one year after the TIPS procedure, compared to non-coated devices, the researchers report.

At 30 days, the non-coated stents had degraded to such a point that just 81 percent of the TIPS remained open. That number dropped to 79 percent at three months and 54 percent by one year.

In contrast, the Teflon-coated stents remained 90 percent open after 30 days and at the three-month mark, and 87 percent open one year after implantation.

Patients treated with the coated stents also had better survival rates than those treated with non-coated stents, the researchers found.

The study was presented May 17 the American Roentgen Ray Society annual meeting, in New Orleans.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about cirrhosis and portal hypertension.

SOURCE: American Roentgen Ray Society, news release, May 17, 2005
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