Valley Hospitals in the Forefront of Breakthrough Treatments

by Mike Hunter

Absorb_Image5_high-res_AP2937330_RevBA procedure recently performed at HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea Medical Center used a revolutionary heart stent that dissolves completely over time. Manufactured by Abbott Vascular, the stent is a small polymer tube that opens clogged arteries and helps restore blood flow to the heart. The stent dissolves completely in the body two to three years after implantation. “With the fully dissolving stent, we believe there will be less scarring or inflammation,” says David G. Rizik, M.D., an HonorHealth interventional cardiologist who was a principal investigator for the device during clinical trials at HonorHealth Research Institute. “The artery can return to a more natural state, expanding and contracting with exercise or exertion. A metal stent is permanent and restricts motion by caging the vessel, giving it no opportunity to grow or enlarge.”

HonorHealth cardiac researchers spent the past 10 years working with the manufacturer to bring this technology to market, performing clinical trials and publishing numerous scientific papers that eventually led to approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration early last month. “This is a game changer in coronary disease management,” says Rizik.

Another game changer is in the works, with Valley hospitals again helping lead the way. Abrazo Community Health Network’s Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital is one of 80 sites nationwide and the only one in Arizona participating in advanced clinical trials on the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure on low-risk patients.

TAVR is a minimally invasive alternative to open-heart surgery that enables a surgeon to implant a replacement valve through a small incision near the femoral artery in the groin, eliminating the need to crack open a patient’s chest. Currently, the procedure is available only to certain high-risk patients. The trial will include 1,200 patients who have a less than 3 percent risk of operative mortality, as determined by a heart team. The trial, which began last month, has a two-year endpoint and allows for a one-year analysis for early FDA submission.

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