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    Queen's researcher first to successfully use biodegradable esophageal stent

    Queen’s University researcher Lawrence Hookey (School of Medicine) has successfully performed the first endoscopic procedure in North America using a biodegradable esophageal stent. The procedure was performed at Kingston General Hospital. The stents – essentially tubes inserted in the throat - are used to improve the quality of life for patients who have difficulty swallowing.

    “This is a huge step. No other biodegradable stent is being used in gastrointestinal medicine in North America,” says Dr. Hookey, who is also the medical director of the endoscopy unit at Hotel Dieu Hospital and Kingston General Hospital. “I’m pleased that my patient now has the ability to swallow on her own for longer durations between procedures.”

    The biodegradable stent is an uncovered mesh tube that holds open the narrowing of the esophagus so that patients can swallow food and liquids. Unlike the conventionally used fully covered mesh metal stent which has a covering to help ensure that it can be easily removed between endoscopies – but can also slip down into the stomach – the biodegradable device resists slipping out of place.

    The stent also breaks down naturally so it doesn’t need to be removed, allowing patients to go longer between procedures.

    54-year-old Kim McCabe is the first person in North America to use a biodegradable stent. So far, the stents are only available in Europe but McCabe’s was acquired on a special access basis approved by Health Canada.