Objective: The purpose is to define factors influencing long-term patency of the internal thoracic artery (ITA) to optimize the operative strategy.
Methods: 1482 left internal thoracic artery (LITA) and 636 right internal thoracic artery (RITA) symptom-directed angiograms were studied in 1434 patients. Data were prospectively collected from patients who had primary coronary artery bypass surgery during the period 1982-2002. The mean age of patients was 59 years; 85% were male. The mean period from operation to re-angiogram was 80 months. LITA was grafted to left anterior descending coronary artery (LAD) in 82% of cases, RITA to right coronary artery (RCA) in 40% and circumflex artery in 35% of cases. Graft failure was defined as > or =80% stenosis.
Results: 96.3% of LITA and 88.1% of RITA grafts were patent. No patient variables were significantly associated with graft patency (age, gender, diabetes, hypertension, LVEF, NYHA, AMI). Target coronary artery was associated with patency of both LITA and RITA grafts with maximum patency when grafted to LAD (P = 0.02) RITA had the worst patency to RCA, patency for the left system was identical to LITA. Proximal anastomosis to aorta (free RITA) had significantly better patency when compared with in situ RITA to RCA system (P = 0.005) while similar patency when grafted to left system. ITA diameter and target artery diameter were not associated with graft patency. Recent operations had better RITA patency (P = 0.03). The interval from operation to angiogram was not associated with ITA patency (96% patency for LITA and 88% patency for RITA, remained stable when studied at <1, 1-4, 5-9, 10-14 and >15 years).
Conclusions: Even in a patient cohort that had adverse symptoms, excellent LITA and RITA patency was achieved which almost remained constant through all time intervals studied.