Background: The recent successful revival of the radial artery as a coronary-bypass conduit has been attributed to a minimally traumatic harvesting technique without diathermy, combined with long-term oral calcium antagonist therapy. We describe a simplified technique of harvesting the radial artery, which reduces procurement time and maintains conduit relaxation. Methods: Radial arteries were harvested using diathermy and topical glyceryl trinitrate-verapamil dilator solution. Postoperatively, intravenous glyceryl trinitrate, but no calcium antagonist was used. The clinical results in the first 100 consecutive patients receiving radial artery grafts (RA group), procured using this technique, were compared with a group of 100 patients receiving saphenous vein conduits (SV group) immediately prior to the introduction of the radial artery at our institution. Results: There were no demographic differences between the two groups, other than the SV group being slightly older. There was one intraoperative death in each group. There was no difference in the rate of peri-operative myocardial infarction or length of stay in the intensive care unit. At a median follow-up time of 16 months for the RA group, and 25 months for the SV group, the survival rates were 97 and 94%, respectively. All survivors were in the New York Heart Association class I. In the SV group, two postoperative angioplasties were performed. Conclusions: These early results suggest that this method of procuring the radial artery using diathermy, glyceryl trinitrate and no postoperative calcium antagonists, is rapid, safe and effective. The continued use of this technique is justified, while awaiting the results of long-term angiographic studies.
- Coronary artery bypass grafting
- Radial artery