OBJECTIVES. To gain insight into the mechanism of stenting in humans and its short- and long-term implications, we studied the vascular wall of saphenous vein aortocoronary bypass grafts after implantation of the Wallstent. BACKGROUND. The implantation of a stent in aortocoronary bypass grafts may provide an alternative solution for revascularization in patients who are poor candidates for reoperation. Because human histopathologic findings after stenting with the Wallstent have not previously been described in detail, we examined graft segments that were surgically retrieved from 10 patients (21 stents) at 3 days to 10 months after implantation of the stent. METHODS. The grafts were examined by a combination of the following techniques: light microscopy, immunocytochemistry and both scanning and transmission electron microscopy. RESULTS. Early observations revealed that large amounts of platelets and leukocytes adhered to the stent wires during the first few days. At 3 months, the wires were embedded in a layered new intimal thickening, consisting of smooth muscle cells in a collagenous matrix. In addition, foam cells were abundant near the wires. Extracellular lipids and cholesterol crystals were found after 6 months. Smooth muscle cells and extracellular matrix formed the predominant component of restenosis. This new intimal thickening was lined with endothelium, in some cases showing defect intercellular junctions and abnormal adherence of leukocytes and platelets as late as 10 months after implantation. CONCLUSIONS. This type of stent is potentially thrombogenic and seems to be associated with extracellular lipid accumulation in venous aortocoronary bypass grafts.

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Journal of the American College of Cardiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam