Carotid-subclavian bypass grafting with polytetrafluoroethylene grafts for symptomatic subclavian artery stenosis or occlusion: a 20-year experience

J Vasc Surg. 2000 Sep;32(3):411-8; discussion 418-9. doi: 10.1067/mva.2000.108644.


Background and purpose: Since the advent of subclavian artery percutaneous transluminal angioplasty/stenting, several authorities advocate it as the treatment of choice for patients with subclavian artery disease, claiming results equal to or better than those of reconstructive vascular surgery. However, most of their quoted surgical series included patients who may have other brachiocephalic disease who were treated nonuniformly by means of various bypass grafts with different grafts in the same series (eg, Dacron, polytetrafluoroethylene [PTFE], or vein). In this study, we analyze the long-term results of a large series of carotid-subclavian bypass grafts for subclavian artery disease in which PTFE was uniformly used; the study can be used as a future reference to compare the results of subclavian artery percutaneous transluminal angioplasty/stenting.

Patient population and methods: Fifty-one patients with symptomatic subclavian artery disease (40 occlusions and 11 stenoses) who were treated with carotid-subclavian bypass grafts (PTFE [Goretex]) during a 20-year period were analyzed. Graft patency was determined clinically and confirmed with Doppler scanning pressures and duplex ultrasound scanning. The cumulative patency, overall survival, and symptom-free survival rates were calculated with the life table method.

Results: Indications for surgery were arm ischemia in 34 patients (67%), vertebrobasilar insufficiency (VBI) in 27 (53%), and symptomatic subclavian steal in 7 (14%). A combination of arm ischemia and VBI occurred in 17 (33%) of these patients. The mean follow-up was 7.7 years with a median of 7.0 years (range, 1-19 years). The 30-day morbidity rate was 6%, with no perioperative stroke or mortality. Immediate relief of symptoms was achieved in 100% of patients; however, four patients (8%) had late recurrent symptoms (three with VBI). The primary patency and secondary patency rates at 1, 3, 5, and 10 years were 100%, 98%, 96%, and 92% and 100%, 98%, 98%, and 95%, respectively. The symptom-free survival rates at 1, 3, 5, and 10 years were 100%, 96%, 82%, and 47%, respectively. The overall survival rates at 1, 3, 5, and 10 years were 100%, 98%, 86%, and 57%. The mean hospital stay was 3.5 days in the late 70s and 80s and 2.1 days in the 90s (P <. 001).

Conclusions: Carotid-subclavian bypass grafts with PTFE grafts for subclavian artery disease are safe, effective, and durable and should remain the procedure of choice, particularly in good-risk patients.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis Implantation*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene*
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Postoperative Complications / surgery
  • Reoperation
  • Subclavian Steal Syndrome / mortality
  • Subclavian Steal Syndrome / surgery*
  • Survival Rate


  • Polytetrafluoroethylene