Context: Intracoronary stents are now used for the majority of patients undergoing percutaneous coronary revascularization, and the body of scientific knowledge about stents has expanded rapidly in the last several years. Objective: To review the evidence supporting the widespread use of intracoronary stents. Data Sources: The MEDLINE database was searched for articles from 1990 through January 2000 using the indexing terms stents, coronary artery disease, and angioplasty. Additional data sources included bibliographies of articles identified on MEDLINE, bibliographies in textbooks on percutaneous coronary interventions, and preliminary data presented at recent national and international cardiology conferences. Study Selection: We selected for review studies that assessed the effects of stenting on the immediate and long-term outcome of patients undergoing percutaneous coronary revascularization. If data from randomized controlled trials were not available for specific patient subsets or lesion characteristics, observational studies were included. Data Extraction: The methodologic characteristics of studies in coronary stenting were extracted and summarized according to key components of research design, including lesion type, location, and adjunctive therapy used. Studies were classified according to the strength of the available data into proven and unproven indications for stent use. Data Synthesis: Coronary artery stents increase the safety of interventional procedures, increase procedure success rates, and decrease the need for emergency coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Conclusions: Intracoronary stents have become an essential component of the catheter-based treatment of coronary artery disease. The evidence indicates that elective stenting, rather than provisional stenting or balloon angioplasty alone, improves clinical outcomes in the months following percutaneous coronary revascularization in a wide variety of clinical settings and lesion types.
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