Improved survival with multiple left-sided bilateral internal thoracic artery grafts

Ann Thorac Surg. 1997 Jul;64(1):9-14; discussion 15. doi: 10.1016/s0003-4975(97)00473-6.


Background: Although conceptually sound, the use of multiple internal thoracic artery (ITA) bypass grafts to improve long-term clinical results remains controversial. This operation typically involves grafting the left ITA to the anterior descending artery and the right ITA to the right coronary artery. Past clinical studies of bilateral ITA operations have not examined comparative results associated with which coronary arteries received the ITA bypass grafts. Because grafting a superior conduit to an artery of lesser physiologic importance might reduce the clinical benefits, we compared the outcomes of patients receiving different configurations of bilateral ITA operations.

Methods: The study group was 498 consecutive bilateral ITA operations, constituting the 10-year experience of a single surgeon. Follow-up averaged 7.1 years (mode 7.3 years), and was 94.2% complete. These patients were divided into two groups, 311 patients (group I) who underwent the traditional operation (left ITA to the left anterior descending artery, right ITA to the right coronary artery), and 187 patients (group II) who received revascularization of branches of the left coronary artery (left ITA to the circumflex system and right ITA to the left anterior descending artery).

Results: The study groups were similar in age, severity of disease, number of bypassed arteries, ejection fraction, diabetes, hypertension, and duration of operation. There were more male patients in group II (91.4% versus 82.3%). A multivariate analysis showed that the location of ITA bypass grafts influenced survival independent of gender (p = 0.0288). Operative morbidity and mortality were similar between groups. Ninety-three patients had repeat angiography with equivalent patency rates of the ITA conduits (91.7% versus 89.6%; p = 0.67). The Kaplan-Meier actuarial survival estimate demonstrated a significant improvement in survival of patients in group II who received both ITA bypass grafts to left-sided arteries (p = 0.021), with the survival curves diverging at 6 years. More patients in group II were in New York Heart Association class I or II, but the difference was not statistically significant (94.6% versus 91.6%). Only 2 patients required reoperation.

Conclusions: It appears that maximum long-term benefit from bilateral ITA operations is achieved by grafting the ITA conduits to coronary arteries that supply more left ventricular muscle.

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Artery Bypass / methods*
  • Coronary Artery Bypass / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Saphenous Vein / transplantation
  • Survival Rate
  • Thoracic Arteries / transplantation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Patency