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The Methodist Hospital among first in U.S. to implant minimally-invasive coated vascular stent graft

Houston, TX - 9/10/2007

Surgeons at the Methodist DeBakey Heart Center in Houston were among the first in the U.S. to implant a new, less-invasive stent graft designed to reduce the risk of blood clots in patients treated for peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which affects as many as 12 million Americans over the age of 50.

The new graft, approved for use in the U.S. this month, is the first vascular stent graft available in the U.S. that has a blood-thinner bonded to its surface to prevent clotting long-term.   It is also the only device of its kind to be implanted via a minimally-invasive, catheter-based procedure rather than requiring open surgery.

“Because the blood-thinning drug, Heparin, stays on the stent graft, rather than flowing out into the blood stream, this stent graft prevents blood clots from forming,” said Dr. Alan B. Lumsden, M.D., vascular surgeon at the Methodist DeBakey Heart Center, who performed the procedure. “The procedure involves bypassing the clogged artery to create a new route blood can take to feed the patients’ legs.”

Lumsden was also involved in early studies of heparin-bonded grafts, which showed a major improvement in the performance of grafts bonded with heparin compared to bare stents.

Dr. Lumsden’s team, including Dr. Eric Peden, has now implanted this device in several patients with PAD. 

PAD is a buildup of plaque in the wall of an artery that results in narrowing or blocking of the artery, limiting blood flow to the legs and causing anything from severe leg pain to gangrene and amputation. Severe cases are commonly treated with surgical bypass of the clogged artery, using either a synthetic graft or another healthy vein from the patient. 

“Most vascular surgeons have been frustrated by the inability of synthetic grafts to perform as well as vein grafts in lower-limb bypass because some synthetic versions crush under the pressure put on legs while walking, sitting and moving,” Lumsden said. “The flexibility of this stent graft enables it to better withstand the twisty, tortuous nature of the femoral artery as it passes around and underneath the knee as it bends.

"It’s exciting and personally gratifying to see this come to fruition in my own patients, validating years of medical research,” Lumsden said.

The new stent graft, called the GORE VIABAHN® Endoprosthesis with Heparin Bioactive Surface, is marketed by W.L. Gore & Associates. 

For more information on the Methodist DeBakey Heart Center, see http://www.debakeyheartcenter.com/.