A French study that was stopped abruptly due to safety reasons has indicated a risk factor while using stents to clear the clogged neck arteries, which could result in stroke and death. These findings cast doubts on earlier research which had proved that stents were indeed a safe bet to do away with blockages in the carotid artery.
To make a comparative study, researchers used stents and a surgical method to clear the blocks in the carotid artery. Alarmingly the researchers found that strokes and death risk increased two fold in patients who were treated with stents.
In the normal treatment, to clear off blockages, doctors actually clean the artery with the help of surgery. This is an extremely risky proposition for patients who suffer heart problems or face difficulties in the other carotid artery.
In a novel study, French researchers involved 520 study subjects who had atleast 60 percent or more blocks in the carotid artery. Half of the participants received stents, the remaining half underwent surgery. Barely a month following this procedure, approximately 10 percent of the stented patients suffered a stroke and some succumbed to it. In contrast, only 4 percent of surgical patients suffered either stroke or death.
The study also drew flak, as doctors did not approve of the method adopted to place stents, without the use of the umbrella-like device, which is normally installed at the place beyond the blockage, in order to hold any plaque that breaks off. The 2004 study which had proved that stents are safe for use in clearing blockages in the neck had actually used the umbrella like device. The French study also experimented with the use of different types of stents with no stipulation that doctors should have had prior experience with the type of stent.
Though the recent study has brought to the fore fresh doubts on a subject, hitherto cleared by scientists as early as 2004, yet researchers feel the need for detailed research to check if stents do more harm than good.
A U.S. government-funded study has decided to commence another study with 1,472 people. This will perhaps rest the case and dispel any confusion about the safety of using stents to clear blockages in the neck.