FRIDAY, July 2, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- New stents that release a drug into the bloodstream may be as effective as localized radiation to treat arteries that have become re-blocked after surgery to implant a conventional stent, a new study says.
Stents are small, scaffold-like devices that attempt to keep open a blocked artery. But about 20 percent of people treated with bare metal stents experience a re-narrowing of the same arteries because of the buildup of scar tissue, a condition called in-stent restenosis.
Drug-eluting stents, which are implanted at the site of restenosis, slowly release antibiotics that prevent the formation of scar tissue.
Localized radiation therapy has been considered the best treatment for in-stent restenosis. With this approach, a catheter is used to treat the inner wall of the artery with radiation. This prevents the arterial cells from rapidly multiplying or from forming large amounts of scar tissue.
Dutch researchers compared both methods and found them to be equally effective. After nine months, the heart attack rate was 2.3 percent in both groups, and the survival rate was also equal.
The results appear in the July issue of Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions: Journal of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has information about a drug-eluting stent.