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Published:  November 26, 2013

First Four Patients in Houston Enrolled in Study to Test Dissolving Device in Treatment of Heart Disease

St. Luke's Medical Center (SLMC) - home of the Texas Heart® Institute (THI) - recently enrolled four patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), into a study to evaluate the potential benefits of a dissolving device, similar to a metallic stent.

Manufactured by the healthcare company Abbott, Absorb™ is a small mesh tube similar to a traditional metallic stent that is designed to open a blocked heart vessel and restore blood flow, but then dissolves into the blood vessel over time. 

“ABSORB III is the first clinical trial in the United States to evaluate the potential benefits of Absorb in comparison to a medicated metallic heart stent?otherwise known as a drug eluting stent,” said Emerson Perin, MD, Director of New Cardiovascular Interventional Technology and Clinical Research for Cardiovascular Medicine at THI. “The study results have the possibility to revolutionize how cardiologists treat patients with coronary artery disease."

Unlike the currently used metallic stents that remain permanently in the body, Absorb™ is a temporary structure made of polylactide, a naturally dissolvable material that is commonly used in medical implants such as dissolving sutures.

Each year, about 785,000 Americans have a first heart attack, and another 470,000, who have already experienced one or more heart attacks, will have another. Heart disease accounts for one of every six deaths in the United States. CAD is a leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. Patients with CAD can experience symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath when the demand for blood to the heart is more than the heart's ability to supply blood due to blockages in the vessels that supply blood to the heart. These blockages are caused by the buildup of fat and cholesterol in the vessel.

Since the 1970s, physicians have treated patients with CAD with balloon angioplasty and drug eluting metallic stents, allowing many patients to avoid open heart surgery.  About a decade ago, scientists at Abbott started developing Absorb, and now, Abbott is the first company in the world to begin testing a bioresorbable vascular scaffold for patients in the U.S.

The ABSORB III global clinical trial will enroll approximately 2,250 patients, the majority at U.S. centers, including THI at St. Luke’s Medical Center. Patients are randomly assigned in the study to receive either the Absorb™ device or a metallic drug eluting stent.  For more information, contact St. Luke’s Office of Clinical Research at 832-355-3710 (, or visit us at


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