Objectives: To assess the impact of the availability of drug-eluting stents (DES) in April 2002 in Emilia-Romagna (a four-million resident Italian region), on the rate of use of revascularization procedures. DES are expected to influence the rate of use of coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI). However, to date, little empirical information is available on the actual impact of this innovation on clinical practice.
Methods: A time series regression analysis of the monthly number of procedures (PCI and CABG) performed between January 1998 and March 2003.
Results: DES availability was associated with statistically significant changes in the use of revascularization procedures, although the size of the effect was always small or moderate. PCI increased only by 0.36 more procedures per month (approximately four per year), whereas more evident was the concurrent reduction of isolated CABG (4.15 fewer per month, that is fifty fewer per year). Overall, considering all the surgical revascularizations (i.e., CAGB both isolated and associated with other interventions), there was a reduction of 2.52 procedures per month (thirty less per year).
Conclusions: Despite DES being at a very early stage of their diffusion process, our results indicate that they are already having an impact, although moderate, on the use of revascularization procedures. If these findings will be confirmed, they will have a substantial influence on the patterns of care for patients with coronary artery disease and relevant policy implications for health services.