Background: With increasing use of beating heart techniques for bypass of the left anterior descending coronary artery with the left internal mammary artery (LIMA), appropriate concerns have been raised of whether graft patency by these techniques compares favorably with conventional, arrested heart techniques.
Methods: All published articles that examine outcome efficacy of the LIMA graft to the left anterior descending coronary artery were reviewed. Because angiography has been considered the "gold standard," only those studies that included angiographic follow-up were analyzed.
Results: From 1972 through 1998, there have been 37 peer-reviewed publications that examined outcomes of LIMA grafting in conventional coronary bypass grafting, of which 27 contained angiographic follow-up data. The completeness of angiographic follow-up was variable, but early graft patency (< or =1 month) in studied patients ranged between 94% and 99%. Late graft patency (up to 15 years) ranged from 51% to 98%. Five recent series of minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass grafting that contained LIMA graft patency data show early graft patency rates between 91% and 99%.
Conclusions: Meaningful comparison of LIMA graft patency between arrested heart, conventional coronary artery bypass grafting, and minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass grafting is difficult; however, early graft patency by both techniques can confidently be stated as being 90% or greater.