The placement of stents in coronary arteries has been shown to reduce restenosis in comparison to balloon angioplasty. However, clinical use of intracoronary stents is impeded by the risk of subacute stent thrombosis and complications associated with the anticoagulant regimen. To reduce these complications, the hypothesis that systemic anticoagulation is not necessary when adequate stent expansion is achieved was prospectively evaluated on a consecutive series of patients who received intracoronary stents.
Methods and Results
From March 1993 to January 1994, 359 patients underwent Palmaz-Schatz coronary stent insertion. After an initial successful angiographic result with <20% stenosis by visual estimation had been achieved, intravascular ultrasound imaging was performed. Further balloon dilatation of the stent was guided by observation of the intravascular ultrasound images. All patients with adequate stent expansion confirmed by ultrasound were treated only with antiplatelet therapy (either ticlopidine for 1 month with short-term aspirin for 5 days or only aspirin) after the procedure. Clinical success (procedure success without early postprocedural events) at 2 months was achieved in 338 patients (94%). With an inflation pressure of 14.9±3.0 atm and a balloon-to-vessel ratio of 1.17±0.19, optimal stent expansion was achieved in 321 of the 334 patients (96%) who underwent intravascular ultrasound evaluation, with these patients receiving only antiplatelet therapy after the procedure. Despite the absence of anticoagulation, there were only two acute stent thromboses (0.6%) and one subacute stent thrombosis (0.3%) at 2-month clinical follow-up. Follow-up angiography at 3 to 6 months documented two additional occlusions (0.6%) at the stent site. At 6-month clinical follow-up, angiographically documented stent occlusion had occurred in 5 patients (1.6%). At 6-month clinical follow-up, there was a 5.7% incidence of myocardial infarction, a 6.4% rate of coronary bypass surgery, and a 1.9% incidence of death. Emergency intervention (emergency angioplasty or bailout stent) for a stent thrombosis event was performed in 3 patients (0.8%). The overall event rate was relatively high because of intraprocedural complications that occurred in 16 patients (4.5%). Intraprocedural complications, however, decreased to 1% when angiographically appropriately sized balloons were used for final stent dilations. There was one ischemic vascular complication that occurred at the time of the procedure and one ischemic vascular complication that occurred at the time of angiographic follow-up. By 6 months, repeat angioplasty for symptomatic restenosis was performed in 47 patients (13.1%).
The Palmaz-Schatz stent can be safely inserted in coronary arteries without subsequent anticoagulation provided that stent expansion is adequate and there are no other flow-limiting lesions present. The use of high-pressure final balloon dilatations and confirmation of adequate stent expansion by intravascular ultrasound provide assurance that anticoagulation therapy can be safely omitted. This technique significantly reduces hospital time and vascular complications and has a low stent thrombosis rate.