Objective: To determine the feasibility and cost of treatment with drug eluting stents in patients with multi-vessel coronary disease referred currently for surgical revascularisation.
Methods: Two experienced interventional cardiologists reviewed retrospectively the clinical records and pre-operative coronary angiograms of 209 patients who underwent their first coronary bypass operation for multi-vessel disease without other adjunctive surgical procedures at the Royal Brompton Hospital in 2002. They were classified according to the technical feasibility and completeness of percutaneous revascularisation. A cost decision-analysis model with a cost of drug eluting stents of euro 2,100 and simulated 1-year costs was constructed.
Results: Mean age was 64.6+/-8.9 years with 54 diabetics (25.8%). Each patient received at least 1 arterial graft and a mean of 3.0+/-0.8 distal anastomoses. Mean post-operative stay was 8.9+/-7.2 days and total cost euro 19,821+/-1,964. Percutaneous revascularisation was judged to be feasible in 158 (76%) cases. The contraindications were at least 1 unfavourable total occlusion subtending viable myocardium in 48 patients (23%) and extreme tortuosity or calcification in 4 patients (2%). Percutaneous revascularisation of grafted major epicardial vessels was anticipated to be complete in 138 (66%) patients and partial but acceptable in 19 (9.1%) patients. Stenting of the left main, of a 'favourable' total occlusion, of bifurcations or in an ostial location would have been required in 32 (20.4%), 60 (38.2%), 77 (49.0%) and 74 (47.1%), respectively, of cases treated. 3.6+/-1.4 drug eluting stents of total length 72.6+/-37.3 mm were required to treat 3.3+/-1.2 lesions per patient at an estimated cost of euro 17,266+/-2,850. When one year repeat revascularisation was modelled at a rate of 15% in the stent group there was no significant cost saving from stenting.
Conclusions: Although percutaneous revascularisation is feasible in 76% of patients currently undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting for multi-vessel disease, such an approach will involve frequent treatment of complex lesions for which no long term results are available and is unlikely to provide appreciable economic savings.