The world’s smallest stent

Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a new method for producing malleable microstructures – for instance, vascular stents that are 40 times smaller than previously possible. In the future, such stents could be used to help to widen life-threatening constrictions of the urinary tract in foetuses in the womb.
It’s the stent’s shape-memory properties that give it its fourth dimension. Even if the material is deformed, it remembers its original shape and returns to this shape when warm. “The shape-memory polymer is suitable for treating urethral strictures. When compressed, the stent can be pushed through the affected area. Then, once in place, it returns to its original shape and widens the constricted area of the urinary tract,” De Bernardis says.

But the stents are still a long way from finding real-world application. Before human studies can be conducted to show whether they are suitable for helping children with congenital urinary tract defects, the stents must first be tested in animal models.

Author(s)Source
Schipper O08.08.2018, ETH Zurich
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