BARCELONA (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Improvements in percutaneous coronary intervention over the past decade have made a difference. Coronary stenting to treat triple-vessel disease produced roughly the same 1-year results as coronary artery bypass surgery, based on results from 454 patients in an uncontrolled, prospective trial.

With state-of-the-art percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), the 1-year incidence of major cardiac and cerebrovascular events was 11% in the Synergy Between PCI with Taxus and Cardiac Surgery (SYNTAX) II trial, a PCI outcome substantially better than the 18% rate with PCI seen in the original SYNTAX trial, run during 2005-2007. That incidence was similar to the 11% 1-year major adverse event rate seen in patients who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) in the first SYNTAX trial (N Engl J Med. 2009 Mar 5; 360[10]:961-72 ), said Javier Escaned, MD , who reported the results at the annual congress of the European Society of Cardiology.

The investigators who ran SYNTAX II applied the following six discrete improvements to PCI, compared with the first trial from a decade earlier:

“To get the best results you need to do all of this; none of these steps takes full credit by itself,” said Dr. Escaned, an interventional cardiologist at the Hospital Clinic San Carlos in Madrid. “The message from SYNTAX II is that if you put all of these steps together, this is the result,” he said in an interview.

An underlying assumption of the single-arm design of SYNTAX II and its “exploratory” comparison to a 334-patient subset of the 897 patients who underwent CABG in the original SYNTAX trial who retrospectively met the SYNTAX score II enrollment criteria used in the current trial was that “CABG has not changed much” since the first SYNTAX trial, Dr. Escaned said. Although he acknowledged that some progress also occurred with CABG in the subsequent 10 years, “it has not been as big a change” as going to second-generation drug-eluting stents, using a pressure wire assessment to target physiologically important stenoses, and improved techniques for treating chronic total occlusions that have nearly doubled success rates in patients with these lesions.

The SYNTAX II trial enrolled 454 patients with de novo triple-vessel coronary disease without left main stem involvement at 22 centers in four European countries during 2014 and 2015. The improvement in the primary 1-year endpoint in the current patients compared with PCI patients from the first SYNTAX trial was driven primarily by reductions in MI and in repeat revascularizations. The SYNTAX II patients also had a 0.7% rate of definite stent thrombosis events, compared with a 2.4% rate in the original SYNTAX PCI patients, a statistically significant difference. Concurrently with Dr. Escaned’s report at the meeting an article with the results appeared online (Eur Heart J. 2017 Aug 26; doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehx512 ).

Dr. Escaned cautioned that longer-term follow-up is needed to more fully compare the PCI results with CABG.

SYNTAX II received unrestricted grant support from Philips/Volcano and Boston Scientific, the companies that market the pressure wires and stents used in the study. Dr. Escaned reported ties to Abbott, AstraZeneca, Biosensors, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, OrbusNeich, Philips/Volcano, and Boston Scientific.

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