Since its introduction in the late 1970's, coronary angioplasty has become a common procedure for treating coronary atherosclerotic disease. It offers significant improvement in symptoms of coronary artery disease through a less invasive procedure than coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Each year, over 500,000 percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) procedures are performed in North America alone. In larger epicardial vessels that are 3 millimeters or greater in diameter, a metal stent can be placed during angioplasty to reduce the incidence of restenosis. In fact, stents are now deployed in approximately 80 percent of PTCA procedures. The success rate of PTCA in achieving significant dilation of stenotic lesions and relief of symptoms of angina approaches 90 percent. However, restenosis occurs in approximately 30 to 40 percent of patients within six months of PTCA alone, and in 20 to 30 percent of patients who undergo stent placement. Repeat PTCA can be performed following restenosis, but the risk of further episodes of restenosis increases as well.

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