HSHS St. Vincent Hospital first in state to use absorbable stent

HSHS St. Vincent Hospital sign

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – A Green Bay hospital is the first in the state to offer a revolutionary device in the treatment of coronary artery disease. It’s a stent that dissolves into the body.

Doctors at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital say there are a number of benefits to the Absorb stent, developed by Abbott.

Just two weeks ago, Dr. Zhaowei Ai placed the first dissolvable stent inside a patient.

“That’s the first case in Wisconsin,” the Prevea cardiologist said.

“By planting into the patient’s artery, it will completely absorb over 3 years or so, and the advantage of that is to restore the vessel shape and function to become a normal vessel.”

A common practice since the late 1980’s, stents are used to increase blood flow in narrowed arteries caused by the buildup of plaque. Until now, stents have been made from metal or plastic, but Ai says that can interfere with the healing process as inflammation can re-scar the vessel or lead to blood clots.

He says the Absorb stent greatly reduces the chance of complications.

“By not leaving the metal in there, in the future if you want further intervention on the vessel it’s very easy. If you need a bypass, you can bypass on that area.”

Ai performs more than 450 stent procedures a year.

He says his patients are excited about this new device.

“They felt this is a future technology. They don’t feel they want to leave something in their heart after the disease gets treated,” he said.

The dissolvable stent was first used in Europe five years ago. It was approved by the FDA this summer after testing involving 2,000 patients, according to Abbott.

Dr. Ai predicts all Wisconsin hospitals will be using the Absorb stent within the year.

“This definitely will be the future technology.”