Objective: To determine whether autologous jugular veins provide functional grafts with high 30-day patency rates in an experimental model of systemic-to-pulmonary shunting performed with a modified Blalock-Taussig procedure.
Animals: 15 healthy Beagles.
Procedure: A segment of the left jugular vein was implanted between the left subclavian and pulmonary arteries. Echocardiograms were obtained prior to surgery, at day 4 to 7, and at day 30 after surgery. Selective angiograms were performed immediately after surgery and on day 30. Oximetric shunt calculations were made via terminal angiography prior to euthanasia. Gross and histologic evaluations of the grafts were conducted.
Results: Grafts were patent in 12 of 15 dogs 30 days after surgery as assessed via auscultation, color Doppler ultrasonography, angiography, and histologic examination. Echocardiographic analysis revealed compensatory eccentric left ventricular hypertrophy. Mean pulmonary-to-systemic flow ratio was 1.5:1. Histologic evidence of endothelialization of the anastomotic sites and vein graft arterialization was detectable at 30 days.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Autologous jugular vein grafts were effectively used to create a systemic-to-pulmonary shunt by use of a modified Blalock-Taussig procedure. High patency, ready accessibility, low cost, and theoretical adaptative remodeling during patient growth make autologous jugular vein grafts a valuable alternative to synthetic materials.