Balloon stenting is a common procedure used to treat patients who have coronary artery disease. This procedure involves using a balloon placed in your artery to widen a blockage site, then placing a stent to keep the newly widened artery open to help prevent clogging once again.
For many years, bare metal stents, as the standard stent type is called, were the only available choice for patients around the world that required stent placement. Thanks to innovation, better stent options are both available now, and arriving in the near future through the process of testing and FDA approval. Here are some of the most common advanced stent types.

Drug-Eluting Stent Systems
Stents that release medications slowly over time are called drug-eluting stents (DES). They have the advantage of reducing the likelihood of a variety of issues that can occur with a bare metal stent. Most medications released by these stents are aimed at reducing the chance of reclogging from the body’s own scar tissue and healing. While the first DES options appeared in the early 2000s, DES technology is constantly evolving. Better performing medications and advanced stent design have meant newer iterations are always being FDA approved, with the latest new approval at the start of this year.

Bio-Engineered Stents
Bio-engineered stents are regarded as the stents of the future, and still in the testing phase around the world as safety and effectiveness are being fully established. These stents are coated in antibodies which drive your body to heal the area at a rapid pace. The faster healing means there is both less chance for dangerous blood clots and less chance of scar tissue growing beneath the stent surface and causing future blockages. With BE stents released and already in use in multiple countries, we can expect FDA approvals and availability hopefully within the next five to ten years.

Bioresorbable Stents
Bioresorbable stents are designed to do their job and eventually be absorbed by the body over a period of time. Stents previously lasted forever and were unable to be removed once placed. This newer technology means reduced likelihood of thrombosis and restenosis in the long-term. It also has the benefit of leaving more options available to a patient who has the stent placed, as it is no longer a permanent fixture inside the body. Absorbable stents still have a long way to go before they are approved and widely used and in balloon stenting procedures but they are well worth a mention in any discussion regarding stent technology.

Combination Stents
All of the advances listed above have been mixed and matched to create superior balloon stenting options called dual therapy stents. The standard combination is a mixture of drug-eluting stents and bio-engineered stents to provide the best defense against common complications. As combination stent systems must typically wait for approval of each individual stent type, there is quite a delay on securing approval of this advanced type.

Balloon stenting remains one of the best treatment options to help patients with coronary artery disease. Better options mean better outcomes for patients across the United States. Although it can be frustrating to wait for promising new stents to be approved or covered by insurance, know that it is only done with your safety in mind. Not all types of stents are ideal or even available for every patient and your cardiologist will determine which option is right for you. If a balloon stenting procedure is in your future and you are in need of a cardiologist, contact our care team today.