Mid-South patients get new dissolvable heart stent

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A medical breakthrough in the treatment of coronary artery disease. Some doctors in the Mid-South are now putting heart stents in patients that dissolve naturally inside the body.

The FDA approved the Absorb stent in July and so far, Baptist Memphis and Baptist Desoto have treated around twenty patients including Barbara Graham.

Several months ago, Graham was told she had 78% blockage in her artery and needed a stent. She had the Absorb stent implanted back in December.

"I thought that it was going to be so neat, but I didn`t understand it when he told me in three years it would be dissolving," said Graham.

Stents are used to open blockages and restore blood flow to the heart.

A traditional stent is a metal-like cage that stays in the artery forever. The dissolving stent is made of a plastic-like material that begins to lose its structure during the first year and within three years is completely gone.

"The stent needs to do it`s job within six months. Beyond six months it`s just sitting there. We are hoping this is going to be the way of the future and this sort of like the holy grail of stents," said Cardiologist Dr. Gilbert Zoghbi.

Cardiologist say the dissolvable stent will help prevent the build up of scar tissue and blood clots associated with metal stints and will allow the artery to function normally again.

"Why this is important: Number one, this opens the door for options down the road if we have to more treatments, more stents or if we need to do a bypass surgery," said Dr. Zoghbi.

So far, the dissolving implant has not been shown to be any safer than the metal implant.

Risks include allergic reactions, infections and internal bleeding.

Long-term safety results aren't expect for a few more years.