Drug-coated stents prevent leg amputation

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Drug-eluting stents can keep clogged leg arteries open, preventing amputation of the leg, suggests research being presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 38th Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans, USA (13–18 April 2013). 

“Peripheral arterial disease is becoming increasingly prevalent due to our aging population and the obesity and diabetes epidemics,” said Robert A Lookstein, lead researcher and chief of interventional radiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, USA. “Many peripheral arterial disease patients are not candidates for surgery and are seeking minimally invasive options. This therapy is an emerging technology that is safe and effective for treating critical limb ischaemia. This treatment helps alleviate pain and avoid amputation,” he noted.


In the retrospective study, 107 patients with critical limb ischaemia had 171 drug-eluting stents placed in blocked leg arteries. Six months after treatment 90% of the stents remained opened. 


Subsequent check-ups at one and two years showed just a slight decline, with 84% and 70%, respectively, of treated arteries remaining open. All patients in the study treated in the early stages of critical limb ischaemia were able to avoid amputation.
 
Minimally invasive balloon angioplasty is commonly used in patients who are not good surgical candidates, but long-term success rates are poor when small arteries are treated, said Lookstein. 


“The study shows that drug-eluting stents are superior to balloon angioplasty and rivals the results of surgical bypass,” said Lookstein. “It is safe, it is durable and the outcomes are spectacular. The vast majority of patients were able to avoid amputation and dramatically improve their quality of life,” he added.