Pressure-diameter relationship in the human greater saphenous vein

Wim Stooker, Murat Gök, Pieter Sipkema, Hans W M Niessen, Alexi Baidoshvili, Nico Westerhof, Evert K Jansen, Charles R H Wildevuur, Léon Eijsman
Annals of Thoracic Surgery 2003, 76 (5): 1533-8

BACKGROUND: Compliance of artificial and autologous vascular grafts is related to future patency. We investigated whether differences in compliance exist between saphenous vein grafts derived from the upper or lower leg, which might indicate upper or lower leg saphenous vein preference in coronary artery bypass surgery. Furthermore, the effect of perivenous application of fibrin glue on mechanical vein wall properties was studied to evaluate its possible use as perivenous graft support.

METHODS: Vein segments (N = 10) from upper or lower leg saphenous vein grafts were collected for histopathologic examination and smooth muscle cell/extracellular matrix (SMC/ECM) ratio was calculated. This ratio is suggested to be related with vascular elastic compliance. In a second group vein graft segments (N = 6) from upper and lower leg were placed in an in vitro model generating stepwise increasing static pressure up to 150 cm H(2)O. Outer diameter was measured continuously with a video micrometer system. Distensibility was calculated from the pressure-diameter curves. A third group of vein graft segments (N = 7) was pressurized after fibrin glue application to prevent overdistension, and studied in the same setup.

RESULTS: Vein segments from the lower leg demonstrated a consistent higher relative response compared with the upper leg saphenous vein graft (0.9176 +/- 0.03993 vs 0.5245 +/- 0.02512). Both reach a plateau in the high-pressure range (> 100 cm H(2)O). A significant difference in in vitro distensibility between upper and lower leg saphenous vein was only found at a pressure of 50 cm H(2)O (p < 0.05). With fibrin glue, support overdistension is prevented as revealed by the maximum relative response between fibrin glue supported upper and lower leg saphenous vein segments (0.4080 +/- 0.02464 vs 0.582 +/- 0.051), and no plateau is reached in the pressure range up to 150 cm H(2)O.

CONCLUSIONS: No upper or lower leg saphenous vein preference could be deduced from the differences in pressure-diameter response due to loss of distensibility (and thus of compliance) in the high-pressure range. Fibrin glue effectively prevents overdistension and preserves some distensibility in the high-pressure range in both the upper and lower leg saphenous vein. This might provide a basis for clinical application of perivenous support.

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