PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Just days after the FDA approved a new dissolvable heart stent; the first local patient has received one.

On Tuesday, UPMC performed the procedure on a 58-year-old woman with severe coronary artery disease.

UPMC and Allegheny Health Network both participated in the clinical trials that helped the FDA give these stents the green light.

Stents are tiny mesh tubes that are threaded into a clogged heart artery to prop it open.

Until now, stents had been made only of metal.

The dissolvable stents are similar to absorbable suture material but still have some strength to them. They act as a scaffold, then get absorbed over two months, and the artery stays open.

Sometimes stents are infused with drugs designed to prevent a recurrent blockage.

From studies leading up to FDA approval of the dissolvable version, turns out the new stent adds to the choices available to patients.

Dr. David Lasorda, a cardiologist at Allegheny General Hospital, says, “It was what we call non-inferior. It wasn’t better nor worse than the current drug-eluting stents on the market.”

Stents can also sometimes limit how the artery normally constricts and expands, and it can interfere with other treatment options.

“Down the line, the artery can resume its normal, what we call, vasomotor function. If you put a lot of stents in, might it preclude someone from having bypass surgery in the future if they have progression of disease? In this particular case, those stents get reabsorbed, and they’re gone,” says Dr. Lasorda.

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The ideal patient for dissolvable stents is younger, with a discrete blockage in a heart vessel where it is still wide, not where it tapers off, as clotting has been a problem in smaller vessels.

Now that it is FDA approved, hospitals offering this stent will have to negotiate the price with the stent maker, Abbott.

Dr. Lasorda says, “I will likely have cases next month once we go through the contracting. I just think it’s exciting, because it’s something new, it’s new technology with coronary stents.”