Top 10 2017 Medical Innovations- 10/10
Every year, 600,000 people have metal coronary stents put into their chests to treat coronary artery blockage. Most of the time, that stent stays there forever, long after its mission is complete. The stents may inhibit natural blood flow and cause other complications, like blood clots.
What if they could just disappear? That is a long-sought goal researchers have finally met. This past July, the first bioabsorbable stent was approved in the United States. Made of a naturally dissolving polymer, the stent widens the clogged artery for two years before it is absorbed into the body in a manner similar to dissolvable sutures. The disappearing stent leaves behind a healthy natural artery. The patient is free to go off blood clotting medication and qualifies for a broader range of medical treatments. What’s more, recovery time has been reduced from three to four weeks for metal stents to just a few days.
Only one version of an absorbable stent has been FDA approved but more are coming. Experts believe the market potential will approach $2 billion in six years. While the full impact of vanishing stents is yet to be seen, 2017 is the year the technology becomes a game changer.