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Drug-Eluting Stents Show Promise for Leg Arteries
Date:3/10/2009

Fewer repeat procedures were needed in people with peripheral arterial disease, study finds,,

TUESDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- Treating peripheral arterial disease with drug-eluting stents may save lives and limbs in people with severely obstructed arteries, Greek researchers have found.

Peripheral arterial disease is common in the lower extremities and sometimes leads to severe obstructions, known as critical limb ischemia (CLI), a condition in which the decreased blood flow causes pain and skin ulcers.

"CLI is today a major health problem, especially in Western societies, and is associated with high morbidity and mortality rates," said Dimitris Karnabatidis, the lead researcher and an assistant professor of interventional radiology at Patras University Hospital in Rion, Greece. "More specifically, an estimated 1 percent of the worldwide population over 50 years old suffers from CLI."

Karnabatidis' study involved 103 people, three-fourths of them diabetics. A normal stent -- a wire mesh tube used to prop open an artery -- was placed in an artery in 41 participants, and 62 were given drug-eluting stents, which were stents coated with sirolimus, an immunosuppressant.

After three years, the researchers found that people with drug-eluting stents had more open arteries (higher primary patency) and less renarrowing (binary restenosis), and they were less likely to need a repeat procedure. People with atherosclerotic disease, or narrowing of the arteries, often must undergo multiple surgical procedures to repair renarrowed arteries at the site of angioplasty or stenting, the researchers said.

"After having such a good experience with drug-eluting stents in the coronary system, there's been enthusiasm about using them in legs," said Dr. Kirk Garratt, director of clinical research at Lenox Hill Heart and Vascular Institute of New York. "We've traditionally used balloons to get these vessels ope
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