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A best evidence topic in cardiac surgery was written according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was 'in coronary artery bypass grafting using radial artery grafts, does proximal anastomosis to the aorta or left internal mammary artery achieve better patency'. Altogether >183 papers were found using the reported search, of which 9 represented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. The authors, journal, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes and results of these papers are tabulated. Radial artery grafts typically have a narrower lumen than vein grafts, and as such there is some concern that anastomosing them directly to the aorta during coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) may impair graft patency. As such, some surgeons prefer to anastomose radial artery grafts to a second-order vessel such as the left internal mammary artery (LIMA). We sought to assess the evidence for this. A handful of papers directly addressing the issue of the effect of the site of proximal anastomosis on graft patency were found, with three showing no significant difference. One such study reported an insignificant difference in angiographic patency at 32 months postoperatively, with 94.1% of off-aorta grafts remaining patent vs 87.2% of off-LIMA grafts (p = 0.123). However, a large-scale well-designed study was able to demonstrate a statistically significant difference at five years postoperatively, with 74.3% of off-aorta grafts patent, compared with 65.2% of off-LIMA (p = 0.004). Nonetheless, a number of papers that report patency for either off-aorta or off-LIMA grafts give comparable figures for each technique. Additionally, different centres and investigators report very different patency results for grafts that have the same site of proximal anastomosis. One centre was able to achieve patency rates for off-LIMA grafts of 88% up to a mean of 7.7 years postoperatively while another centre reported a patency rate of only 78.6% at three years. Given this, and the plethora of other factors influencing graft patency, we conclude that the best evidence suggests that the site of proximal anastomosis has little or no effect on radial artery graft patency following CABG.

Original publication




Journal article


Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg

Publication Date





1020 - 1024


Artery, Coronary artery bypass graft, Patency, Review, Anastomosis, Surgical, Aorta, Benchmarking, Coronary Angiography, Coronary Artery Bypass, Evidence-Based Medicine, Graft Occlusion, Vascular, Humans, Mammary Arteries, Radial Artery, Risk Factors, Time Factors, Treatment Outcome, Vascular Patency