Patent application title: ASYMMETRIC STENT APPARATUS AND METHOD
Michael V. Chobotov (Santa Rosa, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA61F282FI
Class name: Prosthesis (i.e., artificial body members), parts thereof, or aids and accessories therefor arterial prosthesis (i.e., blood vessel) stent in combination with graft
Publication date: 2014-05-15
Patent application number: 20140135899
A stent-graft system comprising a graft member and a stent having a
connection end interconnected with the graft member and a free end
opposed thereto. The stent includes a plurality of struts extending
between the connection end and the free end and at least two of the
struts having different lengths such that the free end has a nonuniform
profile. A method of securing at least one end of a stent-graft within a
vessel is also provided.
1. A stent-graft system comprising: a tubular graft member comprising at
least one longitudinal lumen configured to confine a flow of fluid
therethrough; and a cylindrical stent including: a connection end
interconnected with the tubular graft member, a free end axially opposed
to the connection end, a plurality of struts extending between the
connection end and the free end, a first pair of adjacent short struts
diametrically opposed to a second pair of adjacent short struts, the
short struts defining a distal most portion of the free end, and a first
pair of adjacent long struts diametrically opposed to a second pair of
adjacent long struts, the long struts defining a proximal most portion of
the free end with the pairs of long struts being circumferentially offset
approximately ninety degrees relative to the pairs of short struts.
2. The stent-graft system according to claim 1 wherein each of the struts circumferentially disposed between the first pair and second pair of adjacent long struts is shorter than the first pair and second pair of adjacent long struts.
3. The stent-graft system according to claim 2 wherein the strut lengths of the struts circumferentially disposed between the first pair and second pair of long struts decrease towards the adjacent first pair and second pair of short struts.
4. The stent-graft system according to claim 1 wherein the struts define a sinusoidal profile at the free end of the stent.
5. The stent-graft system according to claim 1 wherein the cylindrical stent further comprises one or more barbs which are configured to extend from the stent struts.
6. The stent-graft system according to claim 1 further comprising a secondary stent which is connected to the free end of the first pair and second pair of adjacent of long struts.
7. The stent-graft system according to claim 6 wherein the secondary stent has a uniform profile at a free end thereof.
8. The stent-graft system according to claim 1 wherein a marker is provided on at least one of the struts to identify an orientation of the stent within a vessel.
9. The stent-graft system according to claim 1 further comprising at least one belt which is releasably secured about the stent between the connection end and the free end and which is releasable therefrom.
10. The stent-graft system according to claim 1 wherein the stent connection end further comprises a plurality of connection elements configured for attachment to corresponding connection members on the tubular graft member.
RELATED PATENT APPLICATION
 This patent application is a continuation and claims the benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/861,828, filed Sep. 26, 2007, naming Michael V. Chobotov as inventor, entitled ASYMMETRIC STENT APPARATUS AND METHOD, and having attorney docket no. TRI-0656-UT, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety, including all text and drawings.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to a system for the treatment of disorders of the vasculature. More specifically, the invention relates to a system for the treatment of disease or injury that potentially compromises the integrity of a flow conduit in the body. For example, an embodiment of the invention is useful in treating indications in the digestive and reproductive systems as well as indications in the cardiovascular system, including thoracic and abdominal aortic aneurysms, arterial dissections (such as those caused by traumatic injury), etc. that include a curved lumen.
 Medical devices for placement in a human or other animal body are well known in the art. One class of medical devices comprises endoluminal devices such as stents, stent-grafts, filters, coils, occlusion baskets, valves, and the like. A stent typically is an elongated device used to support an intraluminal wall. In the case of a stenosis, for example, a stent provides an unobstructed conduit through a body lumen in the area of the stenosis. Such a stent may also have a prosthetic graft layer of fabric or covering lining the inside and/or outside thereof. A covered stent is commonly referred to in the art as an intraluminal prosthesis, an endoluminal or endovascular graft (EVG), a stent-graft, or endograft.
 An endograft may be used, for example, to treat a vascular aneurysm by removing or reducing the pressure on a weakened part of an artery so as to reduce the risk of rupture. Typically, an endograft is implanted in a blood vessel at the site of a stenosis or aneurysm endoluminally, i.e. by so-called "minimally invasive techniques" in which the endograft, typically restrained in a radially compressed configuration by a sheath, crocheted or knit web, catheter or other means, is delivered by an endograft delivery system or "introducer" to the site where it is required. The introducer may enter the vessel or lumen from an access location outside the body, such as purcutaneously through the patient's skin, or by a "cut down" technique in which the entry vessel or lumen is exposed by minor surgical means. The term "proximal" as used herein refers to portions of the endograft, stent or delivery system relatively closer to the end outside of the body, whereas the term "distal" is used to refer to portions relatively closer to the end inside the body.
 After the introducer is advanced into the body lumen to the endograft deployment location, the introducer is manipulated to cause the endograft to be deployed from its constrained configuration, whereupon the stent is expanded to a predetermined diameter at the deployment location, and the introducer is withdrawn. Stent expansion typically is effected by spring elasticity, balloon expansion, and/or by the self-expansion of a thermally or stress-induced return of a memory material to a pre-conditioned expanded configuration.
 Among the many applications for endografts is that of deployment in lumen for repair of an aneurysm, such as a thorasic aortic aneurysm (TAA) or an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). An AAA is an area of increased aortic diameter that generally extends from just below the renal arteries to the aortic bifurcation and a TAA most often occurs in the descending thoracic aorta. AAA and TAA generally result from deterioration of the arterial wall, causing a decrease in the structural and elastic properties of the artery. In addition to a loss of elasticity, this deterioration also causes a slow and continuous dilation of the lumen.
 The standard surgical repair of AAA or TAA is an extensive and invasive procedure typically requiring a week long hospital stay and an extended recovery period. To avoid the complications of the surgical procedure, practitioners commonly resort to a minimally invasive procedure using an endoluminal endograft to reinforce the weakened vessel wall, as mentioned above. At the site of the aneurysm, the practitioner deploys the endograft, anchoring it above and below the aneurysm to relatively healthy tissue. The anchored endograft diverts blood flow away from the weakened arterial wall, minimizing the exposure of the aneurysm to high pressure.
 Intraluminal stents for repairing a damaged or diseased artery or to be used in conjunction with a graft for delivery to an area of a body lumen that has been weakened by disease or damaged, such as an aneurysm of the thorasic or abdominal aorta, are well established in the art of medical science.
 While intraluminal stents are advantageous in anchoring the device, an improved system for aligning stents in curved vessels or lumens is desired.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 In one aspect, the invention provides a stent-graft system comprising a graft member and a stent having a connection end interconnected with the graft member and a free end opposed thereto. The stent includes a plurality of struts extending between the connection end and the free end and at least two of the struts having different lengths such that the free end has a nonuniform profile.
 In another aspect, the invention provides a method of securing at least one end of a graft within a vessel. The method comprises: positioning within the vessel a stent-graft comprising a stent and a graft with a connection end of the stent connected to an end of the graft, the stent having a free end opposite the connection end, the stent including a plurality of nonuniform struts such that the free end has at least one short strut and at least one long strut; positioning the stent-graft within the vessel such that the at least one short strut is aligned with an inner radial curvature of the vessel; and deploying the stent.
 Other aspects and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the detailed description of the invention provided hereinafter.
 The invention is best understood from the following detailed description when read in connection with the accompanying drawings. It is emphasized that, according to common practice, the various features of the drawings are not to scale. On the contrary, the dimensions of the various features are arbitrarily expanded or reduced for clarity. Included in the drawings are the following figures:
 FIG. 1 shows a prior art endovascular graft portion fully deployed within an angulated internal vasculature of the patient.
 FIG. 2 shows an endovascular graft portion in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention fully deployed within an angulated internal vasculature of the patient.
 FIG. 3 shows a flat pattern of an embodiment of a stent in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
 FIG. 4 shows a flat pattern of another alternative embodiment of a stent in accordance with the present invention.
 FIG. 5 shows a portion of an endovascular graft according to an embodiment of the present invention partially deployed within an angulated internal vasculature of the patient.
 FIG. 6 shows the endovascular graft portion of FIG. 5 fully deployed within the internal vasculature of the patient.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 Although the invention is illustrated and described herein with reference to specific embodiments, the invention is not intended to be limited to the details shown. Rather, various modifications may be made in the details within the scope and range of equivalents of the claims and without departing from the invention.
 Unless otherwise stated, the term "graft" or "endovascular graft" is used herein to refer to a prosthesis capable of repairing and/or replacing diseased vessels or portions thereof, including generally tubular and bifurcated devices and any components attached or integral thereto. For purposes of illustration, the graft embodiments described herein may be used in the endovascular treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) or thoracic aortic aneurysms, however, other applications are within the scope of the present invention. For the purposes of this application, with reference to endovascular graft devices, the term "proximal" describes the end of the graft that will be oriented towards the oncoming flow of bodily fluid, typically blood, when the device is deployed within a body passageway. The term "distal" therefore describes the graft end opposite the proximal end. Finally, while the drawings in the various figures are accurate representations of the various embodiments of the present invention, the proportions of the various components thereof are not necessarily shown to exact scale within and among or between any given figure(s).
 Referring to FIG. 1, a prior art stent graft 110 is illustrated deployed within an angulated vessel 1 of a patient. The stent graft 110 includes a stent 140 connected to a graft 113 as is known in the art. The stent 140 includes a plurality of struts 141 which each have a uniform length to define a uniform free end 142 with all of the struts 141 terminating in a common plane P. With such a stent 140 positioned in an angulated vessel 1, the stent 140 may not align properly. For example, an inner strut 141a may liftoft from an inner radial curvature 3 of the vessel 1 as indicated at arrow A. Alternatively, an outer strut 141b may penetrate the vessel wall at an outer radial curvature 5 of the vessel 1.
 Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, a stent graft 10 in accordance with a first embodiment of the invention will be described. An end of the graft 10 is illustrated and may represent the proximal or distal end of the graft 10. The graft 10 includes a generally tubular structure or graft body section 13 comprised of one or more layers of fusible material, such as expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE). An inflatable cuff 16 is disposed at or near the end 14 of graft body section 13. A neck portion 23 is disposed in the vicinity of graft body section end 14 and serves as an additional means to help seal the deployed graft against the inside of a body passageway. Graft body section 13 forms a longitudinal lumen 22 configured to confine a flow of fluid therethrough.
 An attachment ring 24 is affixed to or integrally formed in graft body section 13, or as shown in FIG. 2, at or near graft body section end 14 and neck portion 23. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, attachment ring 24 is a serpentine ring structure comprising apices 28. Other embodiments of attachment ring 24 may take different configurations. Attachment ring 24 may be made from any suitable material that permits expansion from a constrained state, most usefully a shape memory alloy having superelastic properties such as nickel titanium (NiTi). Other suitable attachment ring 24 materials include stainless steel, nickel-cobalt alloys such as MP35N, tantalum and its alloys, polymeric materials, composites, and the like. Attachment ring 24 (as well as all stents and attachment rings described herein) may be configured to self-expand from the illustrated radially constrained state.
 Some apices 28 may also comprise a attachment ring connector element (not shown). The number of connector elements may vary and can be distributed, for example, on every apex, every third or fourth apex, or any other pattern are within the scope of the present invention.
 Graft 10 further comprises one or more stents 40 having, in the deployed state, a generally free end 42 and a connection end 44. FIG. 2 illustrates a proximal stent 40, but the stents 40 may additionally or alternatively be provided on the distal end of the graft 10. In the case of a bifurcated graft, a stent 40 may be provided on the distal end of each leg of the bifurcated graft.
 As shown in FIG. 2, stent 40 is typically, though not necessarily, made a part of graft 10 by having the connection end 44 affixed or connected to attachment ring 24 via connector elements as described in detail below. The connection end 44 of stent 40 may also be affixed or embedded directly to or in neck portion 23 and/or other portions of graft body section 13. In addition, the attachment ring and the stent may not be mechanically or otherwise fastened to one another but rather unified, formed of a monolithic piece of material, such as NiTi.
 This configuration of stent 40, attachment ring 24, neck portion 23, and cuff 16 helps to separate the sealing function of cuff 16, which requires conformation and apposition to the vessel wall within which graft 10 is deployed without excessive radial force, from the anchoring function of stent 40 (attachment ring 24 and neck portion 23 play intermediate roles).
 Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, each stent 40 of the present invention generally comprises a series of interconnected struts 41 which will be described in more detail hereinafter. Each stent 40 further comprises stent connector elements 48 at the connection end 44 thereof. The stent connector elements 48 are configured to be affixed or otherwise connected to attachment ring connector elements 30 via coupling members (not shown), for example, threads or wires. The stents 40 may be manufactured from any suitable material, including the materials suitable for attachment ring 24. When manufactured from a shape memory alloy having superelastic properties such as NiTi, the stents 40 may be configured to self-expand upon release from the contracted state. The strut structure is often formed as a flat structure, as illustrated in FIGS. 3-4, and thereafter, wrapped and connected in a cylindrical or other configuration, as illustrated in FIG. 2.
 Each stent 40 may include one or more barbs 43. A barb 43 can be any outwardly directed protuberance, typically terminating in a sharp point that is capable of at least partially penetrating a body passageway in which graft 10 is deployed (typically the initial and medial layers of a blood vessel such as the abdominal aorta). The number of barbs, the length of each barb, each barb angle, and the barb orientation may vary from barb to barb within a single stent 40 or between multiple stents 40 within a single graft. Although the various barbs 43 may be attached to or fixed on the stent struts 41, it is preferred that they be integrally formed as part of the stent struts 41, as shown in the various figures.
 As illustrated, the struts 41 can have various configurations and lengths. In the present invention, the struts 41 have differing lengths such that the stent 40 has a nonuniform free end 42. That is, the ends of all different struts 41 do not lie along a single plane. In the present embodiment, the short struts 41a define the distal most portions of the free end 42 while the long struts 41 c define the proximal most portions of the free end 42 and the intermediate struts 41b define portions therebetween. In the present embodiment, the free end 42 has a sinusoidal configuration as illustrated in FIG. 3. For some embodiments, the strut lengths slope to a pair of short struts offset approximately ninety degrees relative to the long struts. For some embodiments, the short struts are configured to be aligned with an inner radial curvature and outer radial curvature of an angulated vessel.
 Referring to FIG. 2, in a preferred deployment, the stent 40 is preferably aligned within an angulated vessel such that a pair of the short struts 41a are positioned against an inner radial curvature 3 of the vessel 1 and a second pair of the short struts 41a are positioned against an outer radial curvature 5 of the vessel 1. To facilitate alignment, one or more of the struts 41 may be provided with a radiopaque marker 50 or the like. In this orientation, the long struts 41c are along the sides of the vessel 1 and do not cause liftoff or penetration.
 Referring to FIGS. 4-6, a second embodiment of the invention is illustrated. The stent graft 10' is similar to in the previous embodiment, but the stent 70 includes a portion which is generally the same as the stent 40 of the previous embodiment and a secondary stent portion 80 connected thereto. The secondary stent portion 80 has a plurality of struts 81 which have a uniform length such that the secondary stent 80 has a generally uniform free end 82, i.e. each of the struts 81 terminating in generally the same plane P. The connection end 84 is desirably connected to the long struts 41c of the stent portion 40.
 In use, the stent 70 is preferably deployed in a multistage manner. The stent 70 is positioned within the vessel 1 with the secondary stent portion 80 aligned with a generally straight portion 7 of the vessel 1 and deployed. The secondary stent portion 80 may connect to the straight portion 7 of the vessel 1, for example, via barbs or the like, and anchor the stent graft 10' in position. Since the vessel portion 7 is straight, the uniform struts 81 are not subject to liftoff or penetration. At this time, the nonuniform stent portion 40 remains in a constrained state via belt 35 or the like.
 The staged deployment of the stent 70 also facilitates self-alignment of the stent portion 40 and graft 10. Upon deployment of the secondary stent portion 80, the graft 13 is free to expand and distal fluid flow flows into the graft 13 and creates a "windsock" effect. That is, the distal fluid flow applies a slight distal force upon the graft 13. This distal force helps to align the graft 13 and the stent 40 within the vessel 1, which is particularly advantageous during deployment of the stent graft within the angulated vessel 1, for example, which is an aortic arch.
 The stent portion 40 may thereafter be deployed by release of the belt 35 whereby the stent portion 40 deploys in a manner similar to described above. As shown in FIG. 6, the stent 40 is preferably aligned within the angulated vessel 1 such that a pair of the short struts 41 a are positioned against the inner radial curvature 3 of the vessel 1 and a second pair of the short struts 41 a are positioned against the outer radial curvature 5 of the vessel 1. Again, to facilitate orientation, one or more of the struts 41 may be provided with a radiopaque marker 50 or the like. Orientation is preferably performed prior to deployment of the secondary stent portion 80. As in the previous embodiment, in this orientation, the long struts 41c are along the sides of the vessel 1 and do not cause liftoff or penetration.
 While preferred embodiments of the invention have been shown and described herein, it will be understood that such embodiments are provided by way of example only. Numerous variations, changes and substitutions will occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the invention. Accordingly, it is intended that the appended claims cover all such variations as fall within the spirit and scope of the invention.
Patent applications by Michael V. Chobotov, Santa Rosa, CA US
Patent applications by TRIVASCULAR, INC.
Patent applications in class Stent in combination with graft
Patent applications in all subclasses Stent in combination with graft