An Arm and a Leg and a Heart

Artery in arm no better than a vein in the leg when it comes to heart bypass, says study

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) According to a new study, an artery in the arm is no more efficient or related to better outcomes than a leg vein for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) patients.

Researchers looked at angiographic patency (opened, unobstructed graft) in more than 700 patients undergoing elective coronary artery bypass graft for the first time. A total of 366 patients received the arm's radial artery and 367 patients received the leg's saphenous vein. They found, after one year, patency rates in the groups to be comparable (both reaching an 89 percent average patency rate) with no difference in adverse effects or events.  Patency rate refers to the chance that the new blood vessel grafted will remain open and unoccluded. Greater than 70% open is considered 'patent'.

Dr. Steven Goldman of the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System and the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center in Tucson and colleagues wrote that most clinicians assume arterial grafts have an improved patency rate compared to vein grafts, but "there are little multi-institutional prospective data on radial artery graft versus saphenous vein graft patency."

There were more than 163,000 coronary artery bypass graft procedures performed in 2008 alone, making it one of the most common surgeries in the United States.



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Review Date: 
January 14, 2011
Last Updated:
January 14, 2011