Vancouver researchers studied autopsy reports of hundreds of people who died at Vancouver General Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital from 2010 to 2016. Researchers have identified 110 who had died within 90 days of endovascular procedures, done by threading devices like catheters and stents though blood vessels. These devices are coated with lubricating, plastic-like materials to improve their maneuverability and to reduce friction and damage to blood vessels.
The deaths of at least three people who had hospital procedures in Vancouver were caused by coatings that sloughed off medical devices like catheters and scattered trough blood vessels to major organs. The B.C. study—published in the journal Cardiovascular Pathology and as reported by the Vancouver Sun, and the first of its kind in Canada—found that it was not uncommon for the coating material to come off and travel through the blood to areas where the fragments can cause inflammation or block blood flow to critical organs. In the worst cases, the material can cause major tissue damage leading to fatal strokes or heart attacks.
The study may underestimate the proportion of patients hurt by the coatings since it only examined patients on whom autopsies were conducted and such post mortems are becoming more infrequent. As well, some patients might have died after the 90-day period. The researchers conclude that any individual undergoing an endovascular procedure with a coated device is at some risk of complication from the foreign material.