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State of the art: coronary artery stents – past, present and future

1. Department of Biomedical Sciences, Humanitas University, Rozzano, Milan, Italy; 2. Deutsches Herzzentrum München, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany; 3. Department of Cardiology, Bern University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland

The first percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) was performed in September 1977 by Andreas Grüntzig using a rudimentary balloon angioplasty catheter mounted on a fixed wire. PCI was immediately recognised as a potential breakthrough in cardiovascular medicine, but uptake in clinical practice was limited by unpredictable acute outcomes and a need for surgical standby. The introduction of bare metal stents (BMS) in the 1980s improved procedure reproducibility and clinical outcomes through a permanent scaffolding of the coronary vessel, preventing abrupt occlusion and acute recoil. It was the introduction of drug-eluting stents (DES) at the beginning of this century, however, that allowed PCI to become one of the most frequently performed therapeutic interventions in medicine, primarily by addressing the issue of in-stent restenosis. DES technology has improved considerably since, with iterative developments of the stent metallic backbone, the polymer coating, and the released antiproliferative agents impacting on the safety and efficacy profile of these devices in a meaningful way. Overall, the impressive technological advances in metallic coronary stents have revolutionised the treatment of ischaemic heart disease over the last 40 years. The aim of the present article is to provide an overview of past, present, and future aspects of coronary stent technologies.

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