INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – The interventional cardiology team at Franciscan St. Francis Health Heart Center is among the first in the nation and Indiana to offer patients with coronary artery disease a new FDA-approved treatment option that literally dissolves naturally into the body over time.
Rocco Carlile, a 61-year-old man who resides on the south side of Indianapolis, was the first patient in Central Indiana to receive the FDA-approved Absorb stent. William Berg, MD, FACC, FSCAI, medical director and interventional cardiologist at Franciscan St. Francis Heart Center and Franciscan Physician Network Indiana Heart Physicians, implanted the world’s first FDA-approved dissolving heart stent on August 4, 2016.
The Absorb stent is a major advancement in the treatment of coronary artery disease, which affects 15 million people in the United States and remains a leading cause of death worldwide despite decades of therapeutic advances.
“The Absorb stent is a breakthrough in the treatment of coronary artery disease allowing our patients to receive lifesaving care they need without an unnecessary, permanent metal stent in their heart arteries,” said Dr. Berg. “The stent is the only medical device of its kind that naturally dissolves completely– after it has done its job of keeping a clogged artery open and promoting healing to restore blood flow of the treated artery. Patients with heart disease will benefit long-term from this kind of intervention.”
Coronary artery disease is commonly treated with metal stent, which can limit artery flexibility and potential risk for later development of scar tissue or blood clots. In contrast, the new stent is made of a material similar to dissolving medical stitches that slowly starts to dissolve three-to-six months after implantation. Patients benefit because the stent treats the vessel and dissolves, allowing the artery to resume more natural function and movement.
“Our cardiac catheterization laboratory team treats 4,000 patients every year and received extensive training on the new device,” said Dr. Berg. “We are proud to be among the first in the nation and the first in Central Indiana to offer this novel technology to our heart patients.”
After the Absorb stent dissolves, it allows the artery to pulse and flex naturally. It may also reduce the risk of future blockages that occur with metallic stents, and makes it easier for cardiologists to offer additional interventions in the future if necessary. During the dissolving period, Absorb metabolizes into water and carbon dioxide, two elements that occur naturally in the body.
All that remains in the artery are two pairs of tiny metallic markers that enable a cardiologist to see where the device was placed. After three years, the device is completely dissolved and the vessel can remain open and function on its own.
The procedure is done in an outpatient setting, and barring any complications the patient is released the following day.
Carlile, a project manager for a major commercial and residential building restoration company, said Absorb has enabled him to return to those things that matter most: spending more time with his wife, children and nine grandchildren, church activities and riding his motorcycle.
“I was back at work three days after the procedure and I’m feeling better every day,” said Carlile. “Most of all, this experience has made me appreciate all that I have and the value of life.”
To arrange interviews with Dr. Berg and Rocco Carlile, contact Joe Stuteville. Animations and still images of the Absorb stent and how it works also are available.