Scottish surgeons are using a new dissolvable device to help heart disease patients for the first time.
Teams at the private Spire Edinburgh Hospitals are using the special scaffolding to open blocked blood vessels and restore the blood flow to patients’ hearts.
Unlike other metal devices which do a similar job, the scaffold dissolves into the body once it has done its work.
It is believed to be the first time that the device has been used in a Scottish hospital. One patient has so far received the implant, with more planned in the coming weeks.
The Abbott’s Absorb bioresorbable vascular scaffold (BVS) works in a similar way to traditional metallic devices known as “drug eluting stents” - small scaffolds which open up arteries and release drugs to also tackle the blockage.
But unlike the metallic stents, the new device is made from a natural material which is designed to provide support to the blood vessel until the it is not longer needed and dissolves.
This leaves patients with a treated blood vessel but without the need for a permanent implant. Experts believe this can result in long-term benefits for patients because they are left with an artery which can act like a normal, healthy one.
It can also reduce the need for long-term use of drugs to cut the risk of blood clots.
Consultant Cardiologist Dr James Spratt, from the Spire Shawfair Park Hospital, said: “Absorb is a significant advance in the treatment of coronary artery disease, and we are excited to be able to bring this innovative new technology to our patients.
“Unlike metallic stents that remain permanently in the body, Absorb dissolves away after doing its job, leaving patients with an artery that can move, flex, pulsate and dilate similar to a natural vessel.
“With more than 270,000 patients diagnosed with coronary artery disease in Scotland, a new therapy like Absorb provides a number of key advantages in treating this devastating disease.”
Metal stents are currently the standard treatment offered to heart disease patients who need surgery.
In patients with coronary artery disease, the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked by a build-up of plaque made up of fat, cholesterol or other fatty deposits that can accumulate in the body.
Over time, the plaque hardens and narrows the coronary arteries, limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle.
Areas of plaque can also rupture, causing a blood clot to form on the surface of the plaque. This clot can block blood flow through the coronary artery, causing chest pain, angina and even heart attack.
The new Absorb device is made from a natural material known as a polylactide, which is commonly used in medical implants such as dissolvable stitches.