Background: Whether routine implantation of coronary stents is the best strategy to treat flow-limiting coronary stenoses is unclear. An alternative approach is to do balloon angioplasty and provisionally use stents only to treat suboptimum results. We did a multicentre trial to compare the outcomes of patients treated with these strategies.
Methods: We randomly assigned 479 patients undergoing single-vessel coronary angioplasty routine stent implantation or initial balloon angioplasty and provisional stenting. We followed up patients for 6 months to determine the composite rate of death, myocardial infarction, cardiac surgery, and target-vessel revascularisation.
Results: Stents were implanted in 227 (98.7%) of the patients assigned routine stenting. 93 (37%) patients assigned balloon angioplasty had at least one stent placed because of suboptimum angioplasty results. At 6 months the composite endpoint was significantly lower in the routine stent strategy (14 events, 6.1%) than with the strategy of balloon angioplasty with provisional stenting (37 events, 14.9%, p=0.003). The cost of the initial revascularisation procedure was higher than when a routine stent strategy was used (US$389 vs $339, p<0.001) but at 6 months, average per-patient hospital costs did not differ ($10,206 vs $10,490). Bootstrap replication of 6-month cost data showed continued economic benefit of the routine stent strategy.
Interpretation: Routine stent implantation leads to better acute and long-term clinical outcomes at a cost similar to that of initial balloon angioplasty with provisional stenting.