Harvard Heart Letter

Radial artery grafts prove durable

In coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), the internal mammary (or thoracic) artery is the graft of choice for bypassing blockages in the main coronary artery, because it tends to remain open and functioning well for many years. When additional vessels are needed for creating bypasses, surgeons typically turn to saphenous veins taken from the leg. But these veins tend to develop plaque blockages within a few years. Surgeons at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) found that the radial artery taken from an arm provides an excellent, long-lasting alternative to saphenous vein grafts. A review of 1851 CABGs performed over 16-years found 82% of the radial artery grafts to be open, as compared with 47% of the saphenous vein grafts, 85% of left internal mammary artery grafts, and 80% of right internal mammary artery grafts. The study was published in Circulation on Sept. 11, 2012.

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