Thursday, October 19, 2006

Study: Stents Pose Higher Than Expected Risks

An experimental treatment used to clear clogged neck arteries carries a higher-than-expected risk of stroke and death, according to a study that was stopped because of safety reasons.

The study compared the use of stents - small tubes that prop open blood vessels - with a common surgical procedure for cleaning out blockages in the carotid artery. Deaths and strokes were more than twice as common in patients treated with stents, the researchers found.

The new study is published in the most recent New England Journal of Medicine.

Standard treatment for this condition involved doctors clamping off the artery with a surgical intervention to clean out clogged arteries. There are risks, particularly for those patients with heart damage or problems in the other carotid artery.
Doctors then developed another treatment, using a catheter to string a wire mesh stent into the artery that expands and props the artery open.

Carotid stenting has been around since the mid-1990s. The FDA has approved stenting in limited instances - for patients who have symptoms from an artery that is blocked 70%+ or more and for whom surgery would be highly risky.

For more go to the NEJM site. Source: Associated Press.