Drug-coated stents solve problems with aging vein grafts

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Blockages in vein-bypass grafts which route blood away from diseased areas of the heart can be helped dramatically through the use of drug-coated stents, according to the June issue of Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions: Journal of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions.

Instead of using the bare-metal variety, these stents are medicated with slow-releasing Sirolimus which inhibits scar tissue within veins and have been shown to reduce new blockages by as much as two-thirds.

The study looked at 35 patients who all underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery approximately 10 years ago. These patients required widening of a narrowed vein graft and had interventional cardiologists implant a sirolimus-coated stent at the problem area. After a period of 8 months, only 6 percent of patients required a repeat procedure on the treated vein, perhaps one-third to one-half as many as would have been expected based on studies of bare-metal stents, according to the study.

In coming years several additional multicenter trials will provide further insight into the treatment of aging vein grafts.