Restenosis is the technical term for the re-narrowing of the arteries. It is one of the most important factors in managing cardiac patients who have undergone angioplasty to open narrowed or blocked arteries. Restenosis usually occurs within three to 12 months after angioplasty, whether or not a stent was placed during the procedure. The incidence of restenosis varies from 40 to 50% during the first 12 months in patients who have angioplasty with no stents to 20 to 30% in 12 months when patients have bare metal stents. Stents covered with drugs to halt tissue growth, called Drug-Eluding Stents (DES), have reduced the incidence of restenosis to a rate of 5 to 7% in the first five years, according to Verywellhealth. Even with the lowered risk of restenosis with DES, patients still must be monitored, typically with CT scans or diagnostic angiograms.

Engineers at The University of British Columbia (UBC) developed a smart stent to make it easier for physicians to monitor their patients and provide treatment in a timely manner if necessary. The UBC team published research on the smart stent in Advanced Science. The smart stent is made of medical-grade stainless steel and has a micro-sensor that continuously monitors blood flow, transmitting data wirelessly. The stent, which can be put in place using standard procedures during an angioplasty, doesn’t require a battery because it is able to harvest sufficient energy from the blood pressure within the artery.

The UBC team tested the patented smart stent successfully in a laboratory and in pigs. The next steps include further refining of the technology with industry partners and running clinical trials.