BACKGROUND: There is a lack of evidence for the choice of the second conduit in coronary surgery. The radial artery (RA) is a possible option, but few data on very-long-term outcomes exist.
OBJECTIVES: This study describes 20-year results of RA grafts used for coronary artery bypass grafting and the effects of RA removal on forearm circulation.
METHODS: We report the results of the prospective 20-year follow-up of the first 100 consecutive patients who received the RA as a coronary bypass conduit at our institution.
RESULTS: Follow-up was 100% complete. There were 64 deaths, 23 (35.9%) from cardiovascular causes. Kaplan-Meier 20-year survival was 31%. Of the 36 survivors, 33 (91.6%) underwent RA graft control at a mean of 19.0 ± 2.5 years after surgery. The RA was found to be patent in 24 cases (84.8% patency). In the overall population, probability of graft failure at 20 years was 19.0 ± 0.2% for the left internal thoracic artery (ITA), 25.0 ± 0.2% for the RA, and 55.0 ± 0.2% for the saphenous vein (p = 0.002 for RA vs. saphenous vein, 0.11 for RA vs. ITA, and p < 0.001 for ITA vs. saphenous vein). Target vessel stenosis >90%, but not location of distal anastomosis, significantly influenced long-term RA graft patency. No patients reported hand or forearm symptoms. The ulnar artery diameter was increased in the operated arm (2.44 ± 0.43 mm vs. 2.01 ± 0.47 mm; p < 0.05) and correlated with the peak systolic velocity of the second palmar digital artery (Pearson coefficient: 0.621; p < 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: The 20-year patency rate of RA grafts is good, and not inferior to the ITA, especially when the conduit is used to graft a vessel with >90% stenosis. RA harvesting does not lead to hand or forearm symptoms, even at a very-long-term follow-up.
- Journal Article