The world’s first polymeric bio-resorbable drug-eluting vascular scaffold (BVS) for the treatment of coronary artery disease (CAD) is now available in South Africa from Baroque Medical.

CAD, a narrowing of one or more arteries that supply blood to the heart, is the most common type of heart disease. According to research compiled by Professor Krisela Steyn, of the Medical Research Council: “Premature deaths caused by heart and blood vessel diseases (CVD) in people of working age (35-64 years) are expected to increase by 41% between 2000 and 2030. The negative economic impact of this will be enormous.”

The indications for the use of the BVS are similar to conventional stenting but it does have certain advantages. The use of this therapeutic intervention is ground-breaking because it supports the artery in the same way as a stent but dissolves over a two to three year period. This allows the artery to resume its normal function, leaving no residual stent in the body.

Previous treatment for CAD involved the placement of a coronary metal stent, (either bare metal or with a drug-coated surface) which is a tube of wire mesh that adapts to the artery wall and supports it. Although effective, the stent remains in the body permanently, limiting further treatment options.

“We are very proud to bring the BVS to South Africa,” says Albert Denoon, CEO of Baroque Medical. “It will be available throughout South Africa to all hospitals with a cardiac unit.”

Last week, at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, members of the media witnessed Dr Seth Ashok, a world-renowned interventional cardiologist from India, assisted by Dr Joe McKibbin, a cardiologist at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, insert a BVS into a 69-year-old female patient who had shown marked shortness of breath and been experiencing chest pain for the past two weeks. The patient had all the CAD risk factors.

The BVS was placed into the artery on a balloon at the end of a thin, flexible tube. It was then expanded by inflating the balloon, pushing the plaque – the deposit that blocks arteries – against the artery wall to enable normal blood flow. The balloon was then removed, leaving the BVS in position to support the artery and prevent re-narrowing of the blood vessel.

“With blood flow restored, the BVS will over time dissolve into the blood vessel. It takes about two to three years for the BVS to dissolve, which it does completely except for small markers that stay behind to alert a cardiologist to the fact that a BVS had previously been placed,” says Dr Ashok.