NEWS | July 22, 2016

UC Davis cardiologists are first in Northern California to offer the new disappearing stent


Cardiologists at UC Davis Health System have treated the first patient in Northern California with a new bioresorbable stent.

Raymond Menchaca is the first patient in Northern California to receive the new bioresorbable stent. Raymond Menchaca is the first patient in Northern California to receive the new bioresorbable stent.

The Absorb vascular scaffold works like a traditional metal stent in opening vessels clogged by fatty deposits. Instead of remaining in the vessel for a lifetime, however, it is made of material similar to dissolving sutures and disappears within three years.

Raymond Menchaca, 54, of Sacramento was the first patient in California north of Los Angeles to receive the stent following its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. His procedure was on Thursday of last week, he was released from the hospital the next day, and he returned to his job as a bookkeeper this week.

“We participated in the clinical trials for the new stent, and that early experience with the technology contributed to UC Davis being one of the first heart centers in the U.S. to receive it following its approval for commercial use,” said Jeffrey Southard, an associate professor with the UC Davis Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and a specialist in interventional cardiology.

The procedure was led by Southard, who used a catheter to place the stent in the coronary artery on the left side of Menchaca’s heart.

“Mr. Menchaca was an ideal candidate for the new stent, given the type and location of his blockage,” Southard said. “He is doing very well, and we expect his full recovery.”

Absorb is the only fully dissolving stent approved for treating coronary artery disease (CAD), a condition that affects 15 million people in the U.S. and that is a leading cause of heart attack and stroke. Beginning in the 1980s, the use of stents — which look like flexible, mesh tubes — revolutionized CAD care by offering a long-term, structural treatment in addition to lifestyle change and medication.

UC Davis cardiologists
Cardiologists Jeffrey Southard (left) and Reginald Low are leaders in percutaneous coronary interventions.

Stents are often used to help vessels remain open following balloon angioplasty to compress blockages. Commonly used options are bare metal or metal combined with medication (drug-eluting) to support vascular healing.

“Having more stent options for patients is always better,” Southard said. “The challenge is knowing which one is best for which patient.”

The bioresorbable stent, for instance, is likely to work best for non-calcified blockages in larger vessels, according to Southard.

“If used properly, this stent can be a game changer for patients,” he added.

Cardiovascular medicine specialists and subspecialists at UC Davis are passionate about providing the highest level of care to patients with cardiac and blood-vessel disease. The team is led by Reginald Low, a nationally recognized expert on minimally invasive methods to diagnose and treat coronary artery disease. In addition to being exceptional clinicians, UC Davis cardiologists are leaders in developing and testing the next generation of cardiac and vascular therapies, technologies and procedures, and then making them available to patients worldwide. For information, visit