Better stent for leg artery blockages
Patients with coronary artery disease often have atherosclerosis in their femoral (leg) arteries, as well. Simple balloon angioplasty is the preferred treatment for these patients, since neither bare-metal nor drug-coated stents have proven to increase success. But nitinol (nickel and titanium) stents may change this. In a randomized study of 104 patients reported in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, restenosis was seen at six months in 43 percent of patients who underwent angioplasty alone but only 24 percent of those who received nitinol stents. One year after the procedure, the restenosis (recurrence of constriction) rate was 63 percent in the angioplasty group and 37 percent in the stent group. At both six and 12 months, patients with nitinol stents were able to walk significantly farther without leg pain. These results are encouraging, but critics say that some patients’ leg pain may have improved on its own. They feel the true benefit of nitinol stents can’t be known until larger trials can evaluate the stents in patients at risk for amputation due to severe ischemia, and smokers.
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