updated 1/15/2010 7:00:30 PM ET 2010-01-16T00:00:30

A Maryland hospital says hundreds of heart patients may have had unnecessary stents implanted in their arteries.

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St. Joseph Medical Center CEO Jeffrey K. Norman tells The Baltimore Sun an internal review shows as many as 369 patients may have received stents they did not need. Patients began getting letters this week.

Coronary stents are devices that can open clogged arteries clogged or create a bridge across damaged areas.

In several cases reviewed by The Sun, patients who got coronary stents have since learned they had only minor blockage, if any.

Hospital officials say the only doctor implicated is one who abruptly stopped practicing and lost his privileges at the hospital last summer. The hospital's cardiology business has been the focus of a health-care fraud investigation.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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