Doctors performing routine angioplasties have long since relied on stents to keep their patients’ arteries open. But a recent study of 144,732 patients at 1,091 hospitals throughout the country by the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that more than 50% of all stents used during these procedures may not have been necessary after all. This is not the first time these concerns have been raised. In fact, in Maryland last year 250 patients sued a doctor at a local hospital claiming that he had surgically implanted unnecessary stents. The cases were settled out of court, the doctor lost his license and his job, and not much has been said about it publically since – until the JAMA article was published, that is.

Despite a growing faction of doctors who believe that stents are largely unnecessary, patients seem to think they need them. In one study, it was found that almost half of the surgeons interviewed would have proceeded to insert a stent during an angioplasty even if they saw no medical reason to do so.  This information comes after a report by the National Heart and Lung Institute that perhaps between 1-2% of patient with stents developed blood clots around the area.

Any foreign object in the body runs a chance of being rejected, and an unneeded stent could lead to much more trouble than it’s worth, especially for arteries which are strong enough to go without them.

There is no denying that stents are useful tools, but it may not be appropriate to use them if they are unnecessary.

An unlikely ally

Though American doctors may bow to their patients’ wishes most of the time, doctors in India are taking a stand. Their battles against unnecessary stents have been in and out of the news for the last few years. As a result, India’s doctors are becoming more vocal about their opposition to the usage of unnecessary stents, though many doctors admit to using them even when the blockage is as low as 30%.

If your surgeon implanted an unnecessary stent after an angioplasty, and you suffered injury or side effects it could be a case of medical malpractice. For more information about surgical errors and doctor malfeasance, visit Plaxen & Adler, P.A.