Patients receiving drug-eluting stents boast the same strong results with or without a balloon angioplasty procedure, according to a study presented today at the American College of Cardiology's conference in New Orleans. The 225-patient trial compared the results of "direct stenting" to the traditional procedure where a clogged artery is first cleared using a balloon. Cordis Corp., the Johnson & Johnson company that in April 2003 launched the only Food and Drug Administration-approved drug-eluting stent, funded the study.
Competition in the U.S. market heated up last week when the FDA gave Boston Scientific the green light to market its version of the drug-eluting stent. Cordis' Cypher stent is approved for use with balloon angioplasty, but researchers said patients who meet the criteria for direct stenting can have outcomes at least as good if not better then those who first undergo the balloon procedure. In another study released today at the conference, researchers at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh reported that the use of noninvasive cardiac MRI appears more effective than conventional diagnostic procedures such as nuclear stress testing and angiography in diagnosing women with heart disease. -- by Cinda Becker