Late Des Thrombosis: a Lot of Smoke, Very Little Fire?

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Recent studies and editorials have stirred controversy and generated tremendous publicity in the lay press related to the safety of drug-eluting stents (DES) for the treatment of coronary artery disease. Questions have been raised regarding the risks of late, or very late stent thrombosis with DES. The purpose of this editorial and review of stent thrombosis is to illuminate some counterpoints to some of the attention surrounding the issues of late DES thrombosis. The risks of DES stent thrombosis versus BMS may have been overstated by flawed studies. Late stent thrombosis does occur with both BMS and DES, and may or may not be modestly higher with DES. The time course of very late “DES thrombosis,” suggests that peristent plaque ruptures and disease progression in the target vessel may cause some, or many of these events. There is still much to be learned about the biology of DES. Although there is a small risk of late thrombosis with DES, there is little question that this technology provides benefit to the vast majority of patients compared with prior revascularization strategies, using balloon angioplasty, BMS, or bypass surgery. Substantial resources should be devoted to creating more biocompatible DES systems, and to minimizing the risks of both early and late stent thrombosis.

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