U.S. health regulators said on Tuesdaythey approved a stent by Abbott Laboratories that is thefirst designed to be absorbed into the bloodstream after it isimplanted.

The stent, called Absorb, is made of a plastic similar todissolving sutures and offers an alternative to metal stentscurrently used to prop open arteries cleared of blockages.

Unlike traditional stents that remain in place afterimplantation, Absorb is designed to disappear fully within threeyears of the procedure. (Reporting by Susan Kelly in Chicago; Editing by ChizuNomiyama)