Balloon-expandable stents, implanted in infants and children with congenital heart disease (CHD), often require redilation to match somatic growth. Small diameter stents may eventually require longitudinal surgical transection to prevent iatrogenic vascular stenosis. Intentional transcatheter stent fracture (TSF) is an emerging alternative approach to stent transection, but little is known about the optimal stent substrate and best protocol to improve the likelihood of successful TSF. Bench testing was performed with a stent dilation protocol. After recording baseline characteristics, stents were serially or directly dilated using ultra-high-pressure balloons (UHPB) until fracture occurred or further stent dilation was not possible. Stent characteristics recorded were as follows: cell design, metallurgy, mechanism, and uniformity of fracture. Stents tested included bare-metal coronary stents, premounted small diameter stents, and ePTFE-covered small diameter premounted stents. Ninety-four stents representing 9 distinct models were maximally dilated, with 80 (85%) demonstrating evidence of fracture. Comprehensive fracture details were recorded in 64 stents: linear and complete in 34/64 stents (53.1%), linear and incomplete in 9/64 stents (14.1%), transverse/complex and complete in 6/64 stents (9.4%), and transverse/complex and incomplete in 15/64 stents (23.4%). Stent fracture was not accomplished in some stent models secondary to significant shortening, i.e., "napkin-ring" formation. Serial dilation resulted in evidence of fracture in 62/67 (92.5%) stents compared with 18/27 (66.7%) stents in the direct dilation group (p = 0.003). Intentional TSF is feasible in an ex vivo model. Serial dilation more reliably expanded the stent and allowed for ultimate stent fracture, whereas direct large diameter dilation of stents was more likely to generate a "napkin-ring" configuration, which may be more resistant to fracture. In vivo animal and human testing is necessary to better understand the response to attempted TSF for newly developed stents as well as those currently in use.
Keywords: Foreshortening; Stent fracture; Transcatheter.