The second best arterial graft: a propensity analysis of the radial artery versus the free right internal thoracic artery to bypass the circumflex coronary artery

Robert F Tranbaugh, Kamellia R Dimitrova, David J Lucido, Darryl M Hoffman, Gabriela R Dincheva, Charles M Geller, Sandhya K Balaram, Wilson Ko, Daniel G Swistel
Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery 2014, 147 (1): 133-40

OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine if the radial artery (RA) or the free right internal thoracic artery (RITA) is the better conduit to bypass the circumflex coronary artery during coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) using the left internal thoracic artery (LITA).

METHODS: Propensity matching was performed on 2488 CABG-LITA patients from 2 affiliated centers, resulting in 528 pairs who received either a RA at one center or a free RITA at the other center to bypass the circumflex coronary artery from 1995 to 2009.

RESULTS: Kaplan Meier estimated 1-, 5-, 10-, and 15-year survival rates were 99%, 95%, 85%, and 76% for RA patients, respectively, and 97%, 92%, 80%, and 71% for RITA patients, respectively (P = .060). Major adverse events (MAEs) were fewer in the RA group (7.6% vs 14.0%; P = .001) and use of the RA was a significant predictor of reduced MAEs (odds ratio [OR], 0.48; P = .002) in all patients and especially in diabetic (OR, 0.32; P = .003), older (OR, 0.40; P = .009), obese (OR, 0.15; P < .001), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (OR, 0.05; P = .016) patients. However, survival was better with RA only in COPD (hazard ratio, 0.49; P = .045) and older (hazard ratio, 0.71; P = .050) patients. Overall RA patency (83.9%) was similar to RITA patency (87.4%) at a mean of 5.1 ± 3.8 years (P = .155).

CONCLUSIONS: Long-term survival is similar in CABG-LITA patients using either a RA or free RITA graft to bypass the circumflex coronary artery. RA grafting has fewer MAEs, a similar patency to RITA, and improves survival in older and COPD patients. The choice of the second arterial conduit should be guided by patient profiles and surgeon preferences.

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