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Winchester Medical Center Interventional Cardiologists Among First in U.S. to Implant Naturally Dissolving Heart Stent

Winchester Medical Center Interventional Cardiologists Among First in U.S. to Implant Naturally Dissolving Heart Stent

The Interventional Cardiology team at Valley Health Winchester Medical Center recently became one of the first in the country to offer patients with coronary artery disease a new treatment option that literally does the intended repair and then disappears over time. Abbott Vascular’s bioresorbable vascular scaffold restores and maintains blood flow in clogged arteries and then gradually dissolves in the body as the vessel heals itself, leaving a functioning and healthier vessel rather than the permanent metal stent currently in use. It is the first FDA-approved dissolving heart stent.

Winchester Medical Center interventional cardiologists know the new device well: since 2013 Winchester Medical Center has been a leading U.S. site -- and one of only a few in Virginia – enlisted to evaluate the Absorb stent’s effectiveness and safety, leading to its approval by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in July. The Absorb stent requires a unique implantation technique. For this reason, Abbott currently allows only experienced interventional cardiology facilities to use this novel device.

“We are honored to be among the first in the nation to offer the revolutionary Absorb stent as an option to our patients with coronary artery blockages,” said Neal S. Gaither, MD, Chairman, Invasive Cardiology Clinical Council at Winchester Medical Center. “After our close involvement in the research phase, it’s particularly gratifying to be among the first to offer the approved device to our patients. We see great potential for a stent that does its job and then disappears.”

While stents are traditionally made of metal mesh and remain in the blood vessel, Absorb is made of polylactide, a naturally dissolving material similar to dissolving sutures. Absorb keeps a clogged artery open, promotes healing of the treated vessel, and then disappears completely (except for tiny “radiopaque” metallic markers) in about three years. This leaves a healed artery that can flex and pulse naturally.

Coronary artery disease affects 15 million people in the U.S. and remains a leading cause of death worldwide despite decades of therapeutic advances. “We continue to promote heart health and educate patients about heart attack risk factors and lifestyle choices, but the number who are at risk for heart disease keeps growing,” Dr. Gaither added. “The Absorb stent offers us a proven ‘next generation’ tool for treating blocked vessels.”

As it progressed through the FDA’s rigorous approval process, the Absorb stent was adopted by hospitals outside the U.S. It is currently available in 100 countries and has been used to treat more than 200,000 people worldwide.

“This was an interesting multi-phase clinical trial for us and we’re pleased to be among the first U.S. centers to offer Absorb to our patients,” said Jennifer Stanford, RN, MSN, director of Clinical Research at Valley Health. “We’re seeing a higher incidence of coronary artery disease among ever younger individuals. I think they’ll prefer the new Absorb stent to having a metal stent permanently in place. Wouldn’t you?”

For more information on Absorb, visit For more on Valley Health Heart & Vascular Services, visit