In May of 2013, PinnacleHealth embarked on an exciting journey in caring for patients with blocked heart arteries when it began participating in a three-year clinical trial for the first-of-its-kind drug-eluting Absorb Bioresorbable Vascular Scaffold (BVS).
Following the trial and the FDA’s approval for commercial use in July 2016, PinnacleHealth was the first health system to implant the innovative device in a patient in Pennsylvania, and it was the first in the United States to treat a heart attack patient with Absorb BVS.
Absorb BVS is made of polylactide, a naturally dissolvable material that is commonly used in medical implants such as dissolving sutures. It works like other drug-eluting stents by opening a clogged vessel and restoring blood flow to the heart. Unlike a permanent metallic implant, however, the Absorb BVS then dissolves into the blood vessel, leaving behind a treated vessel that may resume more natural function and movement because it is free of a metallic implant.
“As a physician, it is invigorating to be a part of clinical research that positively impacts our patients in Central Pennsylvania,” says William Bachinsky, MD, FACC, FSCAI, Director of Cardiovascular Research and the cardiac catheterization labs at PinnacleHealth. “By participating in clinical trials at PinnacleHealth, we bring cutting-edge technology to the region years before FDA approval for commercial use.”
From left: Jennifer Everhart, RN-BC; William Bachinsky, MD, FACC, FSCAI; Bernadette Eisenberger, BSN, RN, RCIS; Larry Bortner, RCIS; and Nicole Neidig, RN, BSN, RCIS
The ABSORB III clinical trial was designed to evaluate potential benefits of the Absorb BVS, made by healthcare company Abbott. Absorb is referred to as a scaffold to indicate its temporary nature, unlike a permanent metallic stent. Many patients with coronary artery disease or blocked heart arteries are treated with permanent stents to help restore blood flow and then prop open the artery.
Absorb works by restoring blood flow to the heart, keeping the vessel open until it can stay open on its own and then dissolving completely over time. Absorb dissolves except for two pairs of tiny metallic markers, which help guide placement and remain in the artery to enable a physician to see where the device was placed.
“The Absorb BVS is impressive and combines the unique attributes of a dissolvable material with best-in-class stent technology,” Dr. Bachinsky says. “The Absorb device leaves behind no permanent metallic stent in the artery, unlike devices used commonly to treat coronary artery disease, and may help restore natural vessel function. We are fortunate to have access to this cutting-edge technology right here in Harrisburg.”
Enrolling 2,008 patients with coronary artery disease — the majority in the U.S. — the study compared Abbott’s Absorb device to the world’s leading metallic drug-eluting stent in a head-to-head trial.
PinnacleHealth is one of only 10 hospitals in the nation with the Absorb BVS available. The procedure is performed in one of five cardiac catheterization laboratories at PinnacleHealth Harrisburg Hospital. Each features advanced technology for the diagnosis and treatment of heart and vascular conditions, both emergency and elective, including high-resolution video screens and X-ray machines.
To refer a patient, please call PinnacleHealth CardioVascular Institute at 717-731-0101. For more information about Absorb, please call Janine Brightbill, Physician Marketing Coordinator, at 717-231-8172.