Conference Coverage

Think DEB, not BMS, with high bleeding risk


Key clinical point: PCI with a drug-eluting balloon is better than a bare-metal stent in high–bleeding risk patients.

Major finding: The 9-month MACE rate was 1.9% in the drug-eluting balloon group versus 12.4% with a bare-metal stent.

Study details: This prospective, multicenter, single-blind trial randomized 208 high–bleeding risk patients with de novo lesions in large coronary vessels to PCI with a drug-eluting balloon-only or a bare-metal stent.

Disclosures: The presenter reported having no financial conflicts regarding the DEBUT study, conducted free of commercial support.



– Treatment with a drug-eluting balloon rather than bare-metal stent provided superior outcomes in patients at high bleeding risk with large-vessel coronary lesions, according to the results of the randomized DEBUT study.

Dr. Tuomas T. Rissanen head of the Heart Center at the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu Bruce Jancin/MDedge News

Dr. Tuomas T. Rissanen

“PCI with a drug-eluting balloon, with the possibility of bailout stenting if needed, is a safe and efficient novel option in patients with high bleeding risk,” Tuomas T. Rissanen, MD, PhD, said in presenting the results of the trial at the annual meeting of the European Association of Percutaneous Cardiovascular Interventions.

“The major advantage of the drug-eluting balloon–only strategy is that DAPT [dual-antiplatelet therapy] duration is short – usually 1 month – and positive remodeling of the treated vessel may occur because there is no metallic material present,” added Dr. Rissanen, head of the Heart Center at the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu.

DEBUT (Drug-Eluting Balloon in Stable and Unstable Angina in a Randomized Controlled Noninferiority Trial) was a five-center, single-blind Finnish study in which patients at elevated bleeding risk – most often because they required oral anticoagulation and were over age 80 – were randomized to a paclitaxel-coated drug-eluting balloon (DEB) applied for a minimum of 30 seconds or a bare-metal stent (BMS). They were placed on DAPT for 1 month if they had stable coronary artery disease and 6 months after an acute coronary syndrome.

Participants had to have a target vessel diameter amenable for PCI with a DEB: that is, 2.5-4.0 mm. Patients with in-stent restenosis, an unprotected left main lesion, ST-elevation MI, chronic total occlusion, a dissection sufficient to reduce flow, greater than 30% recoil after predilation, or a bifurcation lesion requiring side branch stenting were excluded.

The impetus for the DEBUT trial was a recognition that, while the use of DEBs is recommended for treatment of in-stent restenosis by European Society of Cardiology guidelines, until DEBUT there were no high-quality randomized trial data regarding the use of such devices in de novo coronary lesions, the cardiologist noted.

The study results were unequivocal. Indeed, DEBUT, planned for 530 patients, was halted after enrollment of only 208 because an interim analysis showed clear superiority for the DEB strategy.

To wit, the primary endpoint – a composite of cardiovascular death, nonfatal MI, or target lesion revascularization at 9 months post PCI – occurred in 1.9% of the DEB group, compared with 12.4% of BMS recipients. This absolute 10.5% difference in risk translated to an 85% relative risk reduction.

Target lesion revascularization, a major secondary outcome, occurred in none of the DEB group and 4.8% of the BMS group. Bleeding Academic Research Consortium (BARC) type 2 bleeding rates were similar at 11%-12% in the two groups.

Four percent of the DEB group required bailout stenting.

“Importantly, at 9 months, there were two definite stent thrombosis cases in the BMS group and no vessel closures in the DEB group,” Dr. Rissanen observed.

Discussant Antonio Colombo, MD, said, “I think a strategy with a drug-eluting balloon makes sense.”

Even though the 2-year results of the LEADERS FREE trial have shown that the BioFreedom polymer-free drug-coated stent proved safer and more effective than a BMS in high–bleeding risk patients with 1 month of DAPT (J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Jan 17;69[2]:162-71), not all PCI centers have access to the BioFreedom stent.

“Why do you need to place a stent in everyone? If you have a good result with the DEB, there is no reason to. Maybe you should use fractional flow reserve [FFR] to give reassurance that the result is really good, but I am in favor of this strategy. I think if you find a small dissection, and the residual lumen is large, it’s okay. It will usually heal. I think a dissection is problematic when the residual lumen is not large,” said Dr. Colombo, chief of invasive cardiology at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan.

There is a practical problem with the DEB-only strategy, however: “Many operators are uncomfortable in not using a stent in a large vessel, even when they have a good result,” he noted.

His fellow discussant Marc Bosiers, MD, said interventional cardiologists need to get over that hangup, which isn’t evidence based.

“We have the same experience in the periphery: We leave arteries as is after DEB therapy with only small Type A, B, and even C dissections, and we have fantastic results. We have total vessel remodeling. In many cases we see the patients back after 6 months or a year and do follow-up angiography, and you’ll be surprised at what you see with DEB alone,” according to Dr. Bosiers, head of the department of vascular surgery at St. Blasius Hospital in Dendermonde, Belgium.

Dr. Rissanen said that, for their next research project, he and his coinvestigators plan to mount a multicenter randomized trial of DEB versus a drug-eluting stent rather than a BMS in high–bleeding risk patients with de novo coronary lesions. And they’re considering ditching the 1 month of DAPT in the DEB patients.

“What is this 1-month DAPT for DEB based on, anyway? I don’t think we need it at all. We could use single-antiplatelet therapy or only the loading dose of the second agent,” he asserted.

But, as one of the discussants responded, that may well be true, and perhaps in the future a course of post-DEB therapy with a single antiplatelet agent or a direct-acting oral anticoagulant will be the routine strategy, but before clinical practice is revised such novel proposals will need to be well-grounded in proof of safety and efficacy. Dr. Rissanen reported having no financial conflicts regarding the DEBUT study, conducted free of commercial support.

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