The influence of coronary artery bypass graft harvest site on women's pain, functional status, and health services utilization throughout the first post-operative year: a longitudinal study

Int J Nurs Stud. 2009 Aug;46(8):1054-60. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2009.02.003. Epub 2009 Mar 9.


Background: Coronary artery bypass graft surgery is a commonly performed procedure aimed at managing coronary symptoms and prolonging life. Researchers have typically examined morbidity and mortality outcomes of predominantly male populations. Less is known about the influence of graft harvest site on recovery outcomes such as surgery-related pain, functional status, and health services utilization, especially in women.

Objectives: We aimed to examine the relationships between coronary artery bypass graft harvest site (saphenous vein, internal mammary arteries or both) and surgery-related pain, functional status, health services use at 6 weeks, 12 weeks and 12 months post-operatively.

Design: Longitudinal extension survey following participation in a clinical trial.

Setting: Ten Canadian centres.

Participants: Women (222) who participated in the Women's Recovery from Sternotomy Trial, underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery with or without heart valve surgery, and completed the 12-month follow-up interview.

Methods: Harvest site data were collected by health record audit at the time of hospital discharge. Surgery-related pain, functional status, pain medication use and health services use data were collected by standardized interview over the telephone at 6 weeks, 12 weeks and 12 months post-operatively. Surgery-related pain and functional status were measured using the short Health Assessment Questionnaire. Health services use was measured by questionnaire and recorded as reported by the participants.

Results: Surgery-related pain, functional disability and health services use decreased over the first post-operative year. Participants who had left internal mammary artery grafts were more likely to have surgery-related pain (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR)=2.79; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.40-5.70) and use pain medication (AOR=4.32; 95% CI 1.44-12.91) than those who had saphenous vein grafts. Conversely, participants who had saphenous vein grafts reported significantly more functional disability (AOR=2.63; 95% CI 1.16-6.25) over 12 months post-surgery than those with left internal mammary artery grafts. Participants who had pain over the course of follow-up were more likely to visit their family physician or nurse practitioner (p=0.017), visit another type of provider (i.e., naturopath or chiropractor, p=0.004), or use any health care service (p<0.0001).

Conclusions: Following coronary artery bypass graft surgery, women who had left internal mammary artery grafts reported more pain and health services use while those who had saphenous vein grafts were more functionally disabled. Women who reported surgery-related pain also used more health services.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Coronary Artery Bypass* / adverse effects
  • Coronary Disease / physiopathology
  • Coronary Disease / surgery*
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain, Postoperative / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires