Background: Complete myocardial revascularization with internal thoracic arteries (ITAs) improves long-term survival and decreases the rate of repeat operations, compared to vein grafts. Adequate length of the graft in coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is essential for providing complete arterial revascularization. Extra length can be obtained by skeletonization of both ITAs. In cases where the right ITA (RITA) is too short to bridge the distance to the target anastomotic site, it is used as a free graft in “composite” arterial grafting, a surgical technique in which free arterial conduits are proximally anastomosed end-to-side to an intact ITA.
Objectives: To describe alternative surgical procedures adapted to accommodate special anatomic requirements.
Design: Retrospective study from April 1996 to April 1999.
Patients: One thousand fifty patients underwent CABG surgery using bilateral skeletonized ITAs: 650 patients (482 men and 168 women; mean ± SD age, 69 ± 7 years) underwent composite arterial grafting. Two hundred sixteen patients (33.2%) were diabetics, 87 patients (13.4%) had severe left ventricular dysfunction (ejection fraction < 35%), and 27 patients (4.2%) underwent emergency operations.
Interventions: The RITA was used as a free graft connected to the in situ left ITA (LITA) in 618 patients. A free LITA was attached to in situ RITA in 32 patients, and minicomposite grafts (free distal LITA on the LITA or free distal RITA on the RITA) were constructed in 38 patients. The average number of grafts was 3.2 per patient (range, 2 to 6 grafts per patient).
Measurements and results: Operative mortality was 2.9% (n = 19), and there were 11 sternal wound infections (1.7%). Early recatheterization was performed in 41 symptomatic patients. The patency rate was 95%. The mean follow-up was 25 months (range, 14 to 36 months), and the 3-year survival was 92.5%, with 97% of the surviving patients being angina free.
Conclusions: Planning CABG surgery using bilateral skeletonized ITAs as arterial conduits affords greater choice in grafting approaches, especially when a composite technique is feasible.