US 20080109071 A1
An expandable tissue supporting device of the present invention employs ductile hinges at selected points in the expandable device. When expansion forces are applied to the device as a whole, the ductile hinges concentrate expansion stresses and strains in-small well defined areas. The expandable medical device including ductile hinges provides the advantages of low expansion force requirements, relatively thick walls which are radio-opaque, improved crimping properties, high crush strength, reduced elastic recoil after implantation, and control of strain to a desired level. The expandable tissue supporting device includes a plurality of elongated beams arranged in a cylindrical device and connected together by a plurality of ductile hinges. Although many ductile hinge configurations are possible, the ductile hinges preferably have a substantially constant hinge cross sectional area which is smaller than a beam cross sectional area such that as the device is expanded from a first diameter to a second diameter, the ductile hinges experience plastic deformation while the beams are not plastically deformed.
1. An expandable medical device comprising:
a plurality of beams, the plurality of beams joined together to form a substantially cylindrical device which is expandable from a cylinder having a first diameter to a cylinder having a second diameter, wherein the plurality of beams are undeformed during expansion from the first diameter to the second diameter;
a plurality of ductile hinges connecting the plurality of beams together in the substantially cylindrical device, wherein the ductile hinges have a smaller cross sectional area than the beams; and
a plurality of holes formed in the beams for containing a beneficial agent.
2. The expandable medical device according to
3. The expandable medical device according to
4. The expandable medical device according to
5. The expandable medical device according to
6. The expandable medical device according to
7. An expandable medical device comprising:
a cylindrical tube; and
a plurality of axial slots formed in the cylindrical tube in a staggered arrangement to define a network of elongated struts, the cylindrical tube being expandable or compressible from a first diameter to a second diameter;
a plurality of ductile hinges formed between the elongated struts, the ductile hinges allowing the cylindrical tube to be expanded or compressed from the first diameter to the second diameter by deformation of the ductile hinges, wherein the ductile hinges have a smaller cross sectional area than the struts; and
plurality of holes in the elongated struts for containing a beneficial agent.
8. The expandable medical device according to
9. The expandable medical device according to
10. The expandable medical device according to
11. The expandable medical device according to
12. The expandable medical device according to
13. An expandable medical device comprising:
a plurality of beams, the plurality of beams joined together to form a substantially cylindrical device which is expandable from a cylinder having a first diameter to a cylinder having a second diameter, the plurality of beams each having a beam width in a circumferential direction;
a plurality of ductile hinges connecting the plurality of beams together in the substantially cylindrical device, the ductile hinges having a substantially constant width in a circumferential direction along a portion of a hinge length which is at least ⅓ a total hinge length, wherein the hinge width is smaller than the beam width such that as the device is expanded from the first diameter to the second diameter the ductile hinges experience plastic deformation while the beams are not plastically deformed; and
a plurality of holes in the beams for containing a beneficial agent.
14. The expandable medical device according to
15. The expandable medical device according to
16. The expandable medical device according to
17. The expandable medical device according to
18. The expandable medical device according to
This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/003,606, filed Dec. 2, 2004, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/231,007, filed Aug. 30, 2002, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/649,217, filed Aug. 28, 2000, now issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,562,065, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/183,555, filed Oct. 29, 1998, now issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,241,762 which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/079,881, filed Mar. 30, 1998, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to tissue-supporting medical devices, and more particularly to expandable, non-removable devices that are implanted within a bodily lumen of a living animal or human to support the organ and maintain patency.
2. Summary of the Related Art
In the past, permanent or biodegradable devices have been developed for implantation within a body passageway to maintain patency of the passageway. These devices are typically introduced percutaneously, and transported transluminally until positioned at a desired location. These devices are then expanded either mechanically, such as by the expansion of a mandrel or balloon positioned inside the device, or expand themselves by releasing stored energy upon actuation within the body. Once expanded within the lumen, these devices, called stents, become encapsulated within the body tissue and remain a permanent implant.
Known stent designs include monofilament wire coil stents (U.S. Pat. No. 4,969,458); welded metal cages (U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,733,665 and 4,776,337); and, most prominently, thin-walled metal cylinders with axial slots formed around the circumference (U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,733,665, 4,739,762, and 4,776,337). Known construction materials for use in stents include polymers, organic fabrics and biocompatible metals, such as, stainless steel, gold, silver, tantalum, titanium, and shape memory alloys such as Nitinol.
U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,733,665, 4,739,762, and 4,776,337 disclose expandable and deformable interluminal vascular grafts in the form of thin-walled tubular members with axial slots allowing the members to be expanded radially outwardly into contact with a body passageway. After insertion, the tubular members are mechanically expanded beyond their elastic limit and thus permanently fixed within the body. The force required to expand these tubular stents is proportional to the thickness of the wall material in a radial direction. To keep expansion forces within acceptable levels for use within the body (e.g., 5-10 atm), these designs must use very thin-walled materials (e.g., stainless steel tubing with 0.0025 inch thick walls). However, materials this thin are not visible on conventional fluoroscopic and x-ray equipment and it is therefore difficult to place the stents accurately or to find and retrieve stents that subsequently become dislodged and lost in the circulatory system.
Further, many of these thin-walled tubular stent designs employ networks of long, slender struts whose width in a circumferential direction is two or more times greater than their thickness in a radial direction. When expanded, these struts are frequently unstable, that is, they display a tendency to buckle, with individual struts twisting out of plane. Excessive protrusion of these twisted struts into the bloodstream has been observed to increase turbulence, and thus encourage thrombosis. Additional procedures have often been required to attempt to correct this problem of buckled struts. For example, after initial stent implantation is determined to have caused buckling of struts, a second, high-pressure balloon (e.g., 12 to 18 atm) would be used to attempt to drive the twisted struts further into the lumen wall. These secondary procedures can be dangerous to the patient due to the risk of collateral damage to the lumen wall.
Many of the known stents display a large elastic recovery, known in the field as “recoil,” after expansion inside a lumen. Large recoil necessitates over-expansion of the stent during implantation to achieve the desired final diameter. Over-expansion is potentially destructive to the lumen tissue. Known stents of the type described above experience recoil of up to about 6 to 12% from maximum expansion.
Large recoil also makes it very difficult to securely crimp most known stents onto delivery catheter balloons. As a result, slippage of stents on balloons during interlumenal transportation, final positioning, and implantation has been an ongoing problem. Many ancillary stent securing devices and techniques have been advanced to attempt to compensate for this basic design problem. Some of the stent securing devices include collars and sleeves used to secure the stent onto the balloon.
Another problem with known stent designs is non-uniformity in the geometry of the expanded stent. Non-uniform expansion can lead to non-uniform coverage of the lumen wall creating gaps in coverage and inadequate lumen support. Further, over expansion in some regions or cells of the stent can lead to excessive material strain and even failure of stent features. This problem is potentially worse in low expansion force stents having smaller feature widths and thicknesses in which manufacturing variations become proportionately more significant. In addition, a typical delivery catheter for use in expanding a stent includes a balloon folded into a compact shape for catheter insertion. The balloon is expanded by fluid pressure to unfold the balloon and deploy the stent. This process of unfolding the balloon causes uneven stresses to be applied to the stent during expansion of the balloon due to the folds causing the problem non-uniform stent expansion.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,545,210 discloses a thin-walled tubular stent geometrically similar to those discussed above, but constructed of a nickel-titanium shape memory alloy (“Nitinol”). This design permits the use of cylinders with thicker walls by making use of the lower yield stress and lower elastic modulus, of martensitic phase Nitinol alloys. The expansion force required to expand a Nitinol stent is less than that of comparable thickness stainless steel stents of a conventional design. However, the “recoil” problem after expansion is significantly greater with Nitinol than with other materials. For example, recoil of a typical design Nitinol stent is about 9%. Nitinol is also more expensive, and more difficult to fabricate and machine than other stent materials, such as stainless steel.
All of the above stents share a critical design property: in each design, the features that undergo permanent deformation during stent expansion are prismatic, i.e., the cross sections of these features remain constant or change very gradually along their entire active length. To a first approximation, such features deform under transverse stress as simple beams with fixed or guided ends: essentially, the features act as a leaf springs. These leaf spring like structures are ideally suited to providing large amounts of elastic deformation before permanent deformation commences. This is exactly the opposite of ideal stent behavior. Further, the force required to deflect prismatic stent struts in the circumferential direction during stent expansion is proportional to the square of the width of the strut in the circumferential direction. Expansion forces thus increase rapidly with strut width in the above stent designs. Typical expansion pressures required to expand known stents are between about 5 and 10 atmospheres. These forces can cause substantial damage to tissue if misapplied.
Another stent described in PCT publication number WO 96/29028 uses struts with relatively weak portions of locally-reduced cross sections which on expansion of the stent act to concentrate deformation at these areas. However, as discussed above non-uniform expansion is even more of a problem when smaller feature widths and thicknesses are involved because manufacturing variations become proportionately more significant. The locally-reduced cross section portions described in this document are formed by pairs of circular holes. The shape of the locally-reduced cross section portions undesirably concentrates the plastic strain at the narrowest portion. This concentration of plastic strain without any provision for controlling the level of plastic strain makes the stent highly vulnerable to failure.
In view of the drawbacks of the prior art stents, it would be advantageous to be able to expand a stent with an expansion force at a low level independent of choice of stent materials, material thickness, or strut dimensions.
It would further be advantageous to have a tissue-supporting device that permits a choice of material thickness that could be viewed easily on conventional fluoroscopic equipment for any material.
It would also be advantageous to have a tissue-supporting device that is inherently stable during expansion, thus eliminating buckling and twisting of structural features during stent deployment.
It would also be desirable to control strain to a desired level which takes advantage of work hardening without approaching a level of plastic strain at which failure may occur.
In addition, it would be advantageous to have a tissue-supporting device with minimal elastic recovery, or “recoil” of the device after expansion.
It would be advantageous to have a tissue supporting device that can be securely crimped to the delivery catheter without requiring special tools, techniques, or ancillary clamping features.
It would further be advantageous to have a tissue-supporting device that has improved resistance to compressive forces (improved crush strength) after expansion.
It would also be advantageous to have a tissue-supporting device that achieves all the above improvements with minimal foreshortening of the overall stent length during expansion.
The present invention addresses several important problems in expandable medical device design including: high expansion force requirements; lack of radio-opacity in thin-walled stents; buckling and twisting of stent features during expansion; poor crimping properties; and excessive elastic recovery (“recoil”) after implantation. The invention also provides benefits of improved resistance to compressive forces after expansion, control of the level of plastic strain, and low axial shortening during expansion. Some embodiments of the invention also provide improved uniformity of expansion by limiting a maximum geometric deflection between struts. The invention may also incorporate sites for the inclusion of beneficial agent delivery.
The invention involves the incorporation of stress/strain concentration features or “ductile hinges” at selected points in the body of an expandable cylindrical medical device. When expansion forces are applied to the device as a whole, these ductile hinges concentrate expansion stresses and strains in small, well-defined areas while limiting strut deflection and plastic strain to specified levels.
In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, an expandable medical device includes a plurality of elongated beams having a substantially constant beam cross sectional area along a beam length. The plurality of elongated beams are joined together to form a substantially cylindrical device which is expandable from a cylinder having a first diameter to a cylinder having a second diameter. A plurality of ductile hinges connect the plurality of beams together in the substantially cylindrical device. The ductile hinges have a substantially constant hinge cross sectional area along a substantial portion of a hinge length. The hinge cross sectional area is smaller than the beam cross sectional area such that as the device is expanded from the first diameter to the second diameter the ductile hinges experience plastic deformation while the beams are not plastically deformed.
In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, an expandable medical device includes a cylindrical tube, and a plurality of axial slots formed in the cylindrical tube in a staggered arrangement to define a network of elongated struts, wherein each of the elongated struts are axially displaced from adjacent struts. A plurality of ductile hinges are formed between the elongated struts. The ductile hinges allow the cylindrical tube to be expanded or compressed from a first diameter to a second diameter by deformation of the ductile hinges. The ductile hinges are asymmetrically configured to reach a predetermined strain level upon a first percentage expansion and to reach the predetermined strain level upon a second percentage of compression, wherein the first percentage is larger than the second percentage.
In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, an expandable medical device includes a plurality of elongated beams having a substantially constant beam cross sectional area along a beam length. A plurality of ductile hinges connect the plurality of beams together in a substantially cylindrical device which is expandable or compressible from a first diameter to a second diameter by plastic deformation of the ductile hinges. A plurality of deflection limiting members are positioned at a plurality of the ductile hinges which limit the deflection at the ductile hinges.
The invention will now be described in greater detail with reference to the preferred embodiments illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which like elements bear like reference numerals, and wherein:
With reference to the drawings and the discussion, the width of any feature is 15 defined as its dimension in the circumferential direction of the cylinder. The length of any feature is defined as its dimension in the axial direction of the cylinder. The thickness of any feature is defined as the wall thickness of the cylinder.
The presence of the ductile hinges 32 allows all of the remaining features in the tissue supporting device to be increased in width or the circumferentially oriented component of their respective rectangular moments of inertia—thus greatly increasing the strength and rigidity of these features. The net result is that elastic, and then plastic deformation commence and propagate in the ductile hinges 32 before other structural elements of the device undergo any significant elastic deformation. The force required to expand the tissue supporting device 20 becomes a function of the geometry of the ductile hinges 32, rather than the device structure as a whole, and arbitrarily small expansion forces can be specified by changing hinge geometry for virtually any material wall thickness. In particular, wall thicknesses great enough to be visible on a fluoroscope can be chosen for any material of interest.
In order to get minimum recoil, the ductile hinges 32 should be designed to operate well into the plastic range of the material, and relatively high local strain-curvatures are developed. When these conditions apply, elastic curvature is a very small fraction of plastic or total curvature, and thus when expansion forces are relaxed, the percent change in hinge curvature is very small. When incorporated into a strut network designed to take maximum advantage of this effect, the elastic springback, or “recoil,” of the overall stent structure is minimized.
In the embodiment of
Yield in ductile hinges at very low gross radial deflections also provides the superior crimping properties displayed by the ductile hinge-based designs. When a tissue supporting device is crimped onto a folded catheter balloon, very little radial compression of the device is possible since the initial fit between balloon and device is already snug. Most stents simply rebound elastically after such compression, resulting in very low clamping forces and the attendant tendency for the stent to slip on the balloon. Ductile hinges, however, sustain significant plastic deformation even at the low deflections occurring during crimping onto the balloon, and therefore a device employing ductile hinges displays much higher clamping forces. The ductile hinge designs according to the present invention may be securely crimped onto a balloon of a delivery catheter by hand or by machine without the need for auxiliary retaining devices commonly used to hold known stents in place.
The geometric details of the stress/strain concentration features or ductile hinges 32 can be varied greatly to tailor the exact mechanical expansion properties to those required in a specific application. The most obvious and straightforward ductile hinges are formed by slots or notches with rounded roots, as in
Generally, the ductile hinges 36 of the embodiment of
For smaller deflection, this very high strain concentration at the bisecting plane is acceptable, and in some cases, useful. For stent crimping purposes, for example, it is desireable to generate relatively large plastic deformations at very small deflection angles.
As a practical matter, however, strut deflection angles for device expansion are often in the 25° to 45° range. At these angles, strain at the root or bisecting plane of concave ductile hinge features can easily exceed the 50 to 60% elongation-to-failure of 316L stainless steel, one of the most ductile stent materials. Deflection limiting features which will be described further below limit the geometric deflection of struts, but these features do not in themselves affect the propagation pattern of plastic deformation in a given ductile hinge design. For concave ductile hinges at large bend angles, very high strain concentrations remain. Scanning electron micrographs have confirmed this analysis.
In many engineering applications, it is desirable to limit the amount of strain, or “cold-work,” in a material to a specified level in order to optimize material properties and to assure safe operation. For example; in medical applications it is desirable to limit the amount of cold-work in 316L stainless steel to about 30%. At this level, the strength of the material is increased, while the material strain is still well below the failure range. Ideally, therefore, a safe and effective ductile hinge should not simply limit gross deflection, but reliably limit material strain to a specified level.
One of the key concepts in
The ductile hinges illustrated in
An alternative embodiment of a tissue supporting device 80 is illustrated in
The notches 94 each have two opposed angled walls 96 which function as a stop to limit geometric deflection of the ductile hinge, and thus limit maximum device expansion. As the cylindrical tubes 82 are expanded and bending occurs at the ductile hinges 90, the angled side walls 96 of the notches 94 move toward each other. Once the opposite side walls 96 of a notch come into contact with each other, they resist further expansion of the particular ductile hinge causing further expansion to occur at other sections of the tissue supporting device. This geometric deflection limiting feature is particularly useful where uneven expansion is caused by either variations in the tissue supporting device 80 due to manufacturing tolerances or uneven balloon expansion.
The tissue supporting device 20, 80 according to the present invention may be formed of any ductile material, such as steel, gold, silver, tantalum, titanium, Nitinol, other shape memory alloys, other metals, or even some plastics. One preferred method for making the tissue supporting device 20, 80 involves forming a cylindrical tube and then laser cutting the slots 22, 26, 86, 92 and notches 94 into the tube. Alternatively, the tissue supporting device may be formed by electromachining, chemical etching followed by rolling and welding, or any other known method.
The design and analysis of stress/strain concentration for ductile hinges, and stress/strain concentration features in general, is complex. For example, the stress concentration factor for the simplified ductile hinge geometry of
The stress concentration factors are generally useful only in the linear elastic range. Stress concentration patterns for a number of other geometries can be determined through photoelastic measurements and other experimental methods. Stent designs based on the use of stress/strain concentration features, or ductile hinges, generally involve more complex hinge geometries and operate in the non-linear elastic and plastic deformation regimes.
The general nature of the relationship among applied forces, material properties, and ductile hinge geometry can be more easily understood through analysis of an idealized hinge 66 as shown in
Where b corresponds to the cylindrical tube wall thickness, h is the circumferential width of the ductile hinge, and δyp is the yield stress of the hinge material. Assuming only that expansion pressure is proportional to the plastic moment, it can be seen that the required expansion pressure to expand the tissue supporting device increases linearly with wall thickness b and as the square of ductile hinge width h. It is thus possible to compensate for relatively large changes in wall thickness b with relatively small changes in hinge width b. While the above idealized case is only approximate, empirical measurements of expansion forces for different hinge widths in several different ductile hinge geometries have confirmed the general form of this relationship. Accordingly, for different ductile hinge geometries it is possible to increase the thickness of the tissue supporting device to achieve radiopacity while compensating for the increased thickness with a much smaller decrease in hinge width.
Ideally, the stent wall thickness b should be as thin as possible while still providing good visibility on a fluoroscope. For most stent materials, including stainless steel, this would suggest a thickness of about 0.005-0.007 inches (0.127-0.178 mm) or greater. The inclusion of ductile hinges in a stent design can lower expansion forces/pressures to very low levels for any material thickness of interest. Thus ductile hinges allow the construction of optimal wall thickness tissue supporting devices at expansion force levels significantly lower than current non-visible designs.
The expansion forces required to expand the tissue supporting device 20 according to the present invention from an initial condition illustrated in
Many tissue supporting devices fashioned from cylindrical tubes comprise networks of long, narrow, prismatic beams of essentially rectangular cross section as shown in
By contrast, in a ductile hinge based design according to the present invention, only the hinge itself deforms during expansion. The typical ductile hinge 32 is not a long narrow beam as are the struts in the known stents. Wall thickness of the present invention may be increased to 0.005 inches (0.127 mm) or greater, while hinge width is typically 0.002-0.003 inches (0.0508-0.0762 mm), preferably 0.0025 inches (0.0635 mm) or less. Typical hinge length, at 0.002 to 0.005 inches (0.0508-0.0127 mm), is more than an order of magnitude less than typical strut length. Thus, the ratio of b:h in a typical ductile hinge 32 is 2:1 or greater. This is an inherently stable ratio, meaning that the plastic moment for such a ductile hinge beam is much lower than the critical buckling moment Mcrit and the ductile hinge beam deforms through normal strain-curvature. Ductile hinges 32 are thus not vulnerable to buckling when subjected to bending moments during expansion of the tissue supporting device 20.
To provide optimal recoil and crush-strength properties, it is desirable to design the ductile hinges so that relatively large strains, and thus large curvatures, are imparted to the hinge during expansion of the tissue supporting device. Curvature is defined as the reciprocal of the radius of curvature of the neutral axis of a beam in pure bending. A larger curvature during expansion results in the elastic curvature of the hinge being a small fraction of the total hinge curvature. Thus, the gross elastic recoil of the tissue supporting device is a small fraction of the total change in circumference. It is generally possible to do this because common stent materials, such as 316L Stainless Steel have very large elongations-to-failure (i.e., they are very ductile).
It is not practical to derive exact expressions for residual curvatures for complex hinge geometries and real materials (i.e., materials with non-idealized stress/strain curves). The general nature of residual curvatures and recoil of a ductile hinge may be understood by examining the moment-curvature relationship for the elastic-ideally-plastic rectangular hinge 66 shown in
This function is plotted in
Imparting additional curvature in the plastic zone cannot further increase the elastic curvature, but will decrease the ratio of elastic to plastic curvature. Thus, additional curvature or larger expansion of the tissue supporting device will reduce the percentage recoil of the overall stent structure.
As shown in
Where strain at the yield point is an independent material property (yield stress divided by elastic modulus); L is the length of the ductile hinge; and h is the width of the hinge. For non-idealized ductile hinges made of real materials, the constant 3 in the above expression is replaced by a slowly rising function of total strain, but the effect of geometry would remain the same. Specifically, the elastic rebound angle of a ductile hinge decreases as the hinge width h increases, and increases as the hinge length L increases. To minimize recoil, therefore, hinge width h should be increased and length L should be decreased.
Ductile hinge width h will generally be determined by expansion force criteria, so it is important to reduce hinge length to a practical minimum in order to minimize elastic rebound. Empirical data on recoil for ductile hinges of different lengths show significantly lower recoil for shorter hinge lengths, in good agreement with the above analysis.
The ductile hinges 32 of the tissue supporting device 20 provide a second important advantage in minimizing device recoil. The embodiment of
Since elastic rebound of hinge curvature is nearly constant at any gross curvature, the net contribution to circumferential recoil ΔC is lower at higher strut angles θ. The final device circumference is usually specified as some fixed value, so decreasing overall strut length can increase the final strut angle θ. Total stent recoil can thus be minimized with ductile hinges by using shorter struts and higher hinge curvatures when expanded.
Empirical measurements have shown that tissue supporting device designs based on ductile hinges, such as the embodiment of
According to one example of the tissue supporting device of the invention, the device can be expanded by application of an internal pressure of about 2 atmospheres or less, and once expanded to a diameter between 2 and 3 times the initial diameter can withstand a compressive force of about 16 to 20 gm/mm or greater. Examples of typical compression force values for prior art devices are 3.8 to 4.0 gm/mm.
While both recoil and crush strength properties of tissue supporting devices can be improved by use of ductile hinges with large curvatures in the expanded configuration, care must be taken not to exceed an acceptable maximum strain level for the material being used. For the ductile hinge 44 of
Where e,,,ax is maximum strain, h is ductile hinge width, L is ductile hinge length and θ is bend angle in radians. When strain, hinge width and bend angle are determined through other criteria, this expression can be evaluated to determine the correct ductile hinge length L.
For example, suppose the ductile hinge 44 of
Similar expressions may be developed to determine required lengths for more complicated ductile hinge geometries, such as shown in
In many designs of the prior art, circumferential expansion was accompanied by a significant contraction of the axial length of the stent which may be up to 15% of the initial device length. Excessive axial contraction can cause a number of problems in device deployment and performance including difficulty in proper placement and tissue damage. Designs based on ductile hinges 32 can minimize the axial contraction, or foreshortening, of a tissue supporting device during expansion as follows.
This ability to control axial contraction based on hinge and strut design provides great design flexibility when using ductile hinges. For example, a stent could be designed with zero axial contraction.
An alternative embodiment that illustrates the trade off between crush strength and axial contraction is shown in
According to one example of the present invention, the struts 72 are positioned initially at an angle of about 0° to 45° with respect to a longitudinal axis of the device. As the device is expanded radially from the unexpanded state illustrated in
According to one alternative embodiment of the present invention, the expandable tissue supporting device can also be used as a delivery device for certain beneficial agents including drugs, chemotherapy, or other agents. Due to the structure of the tissue supporting device incorporating ductile hinges, the widths of the struts can be substantially larger than the struts of the prior art devices. The struts due to their large size can be used for beneficial agent delivery by providing beneficial agent on the struts or within the struts. Examples of beneficial agent delivery mechanisms include coatings on the struts, such as polymer coatings containing beneficial agents, laser drilled holes in the struts containing beneficial agent, and the like. Referring to
While the invention has been described in detail with reference to the preferred embodiments thereof, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that various changes and modifications can be made and equivalents employed, without departing from the present invention.