Heart Surgery Goes High-Tech With A World-First Dissolvable Metallic Stents

Pretty female medicine doctor working with modern computer interface

The latest in stent technology is being used by cardiologists at St Vincent’s Hospital and the University of Melbourne to reduce complications from a common cardiac procedure.

Professor Peter Barlis has performed the first operation in Victoria using the new stents, which are made from biocompatible magnesium metal. It is only one of four of these stents inserted across the country.

Stents are small devices used to open an artery that is either blocked or collapsed due to plaque build-up or blood clot. Around 54,000 Australians suffer heart attack each year. Stenting procedures are very common, but once the stent is inserted, it generally remains for life.

Developed by German medical device company BIOTRONIK, the new dissolvable Magmaris magnesium stent was only approved for clinical use in Europe in June 2016.

Over time, the magnesium stent dissolves and is reabsorbed as an inert substance, just like the magnesium nutrients that already exist in our bodies.

This new type of stent reduces risk of inflammation and scar tissue that can block the artery again. And by the time the stent dissolves, the artery should be fully healed and stay open.

“The magnesium stent is attractive because it affords us increased strength over the polymer stents and dissolves in just 12-18 months rather than three years or more,” Professor Barlis said.

Professor Barlis is currently working with the University of Melbourne School of Engineering to develop next-generation stents that can be 3D printed to a patient’s exact specifications, or could even deliver medicine to the heart using nanotechnology.

“Our vision is to improve these devices by making them thinner, which may mean looking at other materials or potentially using nanotechnology to use stents as platforms to release drugs over time to where they are most needed – in the artery itself,” Professor Barlis said.

“We could potentially use such an advance to target cholesterol in the artery to stop the build-up of the plaque that eventually causes blockages. It could also be a way of delivering drugs such as blood thinners for example, without having to rely on patients to keep taking their medication.”

Libby Jane Charleston
LJ Charleston is the Editor of the unique lifestyle technology digital magazine, Women Love Tech. LJ’s expertise comes from her 20+ years’ experience as a senior journalist in TV, newspapers, radio and more recently digital media, along with a passion for everything tech.

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