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FDA expands use of Abbott Labs' neck stent

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal health officials have expanded approval of an artery-opening stent from Abbott Laboratories to a larger group of patients at risk for stroke caused by plaque in the neck arteries.

The Food and Drug Administration said it approved the Acculink stent for patients who are at moderate risk of complications if they underwent the alternative surgical procedure. The procedure, known as an endarterectomy, involves cutting open the neck artery and scraping out plaque formations that can block blood flow.

Previously Acculink was only approved for patients at high risk for complications if they underwent surgery.

Stents are mesh-metal tubes used to hold open arteries where plaque is beginning to form. They are threaded up into the artery with a catheter through a small incision made in the groin.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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