(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New research suggests doctors may be implanting too
many artery-opening stents. A new study says patient outcomes could improve if
they used a method called fractional flow reserve (FFR) or measurements of blood
flow in the vessels of the heart.
The study evaluates the benefits of FFR and looks at whether stenting was the
best option for patients in the study group. "Not only were the outcomes better,
the cost was less," William Fearon, MD, co-principal investigator of the
multicenter international study called FAME and assistant professor of
cardiovascular medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine was quoted
FFR examines arteries by way of a thin pressure wire that has a sensor near the
tip used to measure the pressure of blood flow. "If the narrowing is truly
significant it will cause a drop in blood pressure beyond the narrowing. If the
pressure was 80 percent or less than the pressure in front of the narrowing (an
FFR value of .80 or less), a stent was implanted," Dr. Fearon said. The FFR
tests runs an extra $700 versus $2000 for an individual stent.
The study compared traditional stent patients and FFR patients. Researchers
found patients who received the additional blood flow test received one third
fewer stents than the group examined only with an angiogram. After one year,
18.4 percent of the traditional patients had died, suffered a heart attack or
needed a bypass surgery or a repeat stent procedure, compared with 13 percent of
the FFR patients.
SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine, January 2009