Aims: Left main stenting is increasingly performed and often involves deployment of a single stent across vessels with marked disparity in diameters. Knowing stent expansion capacity is critical to ensure adequate strut apposition after post-dilatation of the stent has been performed. Coronary stents are usually manufactured in only two or three different model designs with each design having a different maximal expansion capacity. Information about the different workhorse designs and their maximal achievable diameter is not commonly provided by manufacturers but, in the absence of this critically important information, stents implanted in segments with major changes in vessel diameter have the potential to become grossly overstretched and to remain incompletely apposed.
Methods and results: We examined the differences in workhorse designs of six commercially available drug-eluting stents (DES): the PROMUS Element, Taxus Liberté, XIENCE Prime, Resolute Integrity, BioMatrix Flex and Cypher Select stents. Using micro-computed tomography, we tested oversizing capabilities above nominal pressures for the different workhorse designs of the six DES using 4.0, 5.0 and 6.0 mm post-dilatation balloons inflated to 14 atmospheres. MLD could be increased significantly in all stents, only restricted by workhorse design limitations. Minimal inner lumen diameter (MLD) achieved after two successive 6.0 mm post-dilatations of the largest design (4.0 mm stent) was 5.7 mm for the Element, 5.6 mm for the XIENCE Prime, 6.0 mm for the Taxus, 5.4 mm for the Resolute Integrity, 5.9 mm for the BioMatrix and 5.8 mm for the Cypher stent. Significant deformations were observed during stent oversizing with large changes in terms of cell opening and crowns expansion. These are affected by design structure and reveal important differences among all stents tested. Such extensive deformations may alter the functional ability of an individual stent to scaffold a lesion and prevent restenosis.
Conclusions: Stent selection based on stent model design may be critical, particularly for treatment of large artery and left main bifurcations where overexpansion is normally required to optimise results and ensure full expansion of the stent.