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Dissolving Heart Stent Hits San Diego Market

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The dissolving stent is shown between two fingers in this undated photo.

Dissolving Heart Stent Hits San Diego Market
Sharp Memorial has become the first hospital in San Diego to use a newly-approved dissolving heart stent.

Three years ago, Sharp Memorial Hospital took part in clinical trial of a novel device: a heart stent that dissolved in the body.

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Now that the device has been approved by the FDA, Sharp has become the first San Diego hospital to implant the device in a patient.

Heart stents are used to restore the blood flow in a blocked artery. They're inserted in a procedure called an angioplasty.

Coronary artery disease affects more than 13 million Americans.

Heart stents are typically made of metal. And once they’re implanted, they can’t be removed.

Dr. Raghava Gollapudi, who directs the catherization lab at Sharp Memorial Hospital, said patients who receive the new dissolving stent may get some long-term benefits.

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“In three to five years, we hope that because we don’t have anything left behind in the artery, these arteries now can return to their normal function of getting bigger in response to need from the heart," Gollapudi said.

But the cardiologist conceded that the dissolving stent is not suitable for every patient.

“It’s a little thicker than our metal stents," Gollapudi said. "And so we’re a little bit cautious with putting the sent in very small arteries because in the clinical trial, it had a little bit higher rate of blood clot formation, at least in the first year.”