Highly flexible nitinol mesh to encase aortocoronary saphenous vein grafts: first clinical experiences and angiographic results nine months postoperatively.
ABSTRACT Saphenous vein graft patency is frequently limited by degeneration. Experimental studies have indicated that rigid external support of venous grafts by a flexible, tubular nitinol mesh may improve graft patency. The study presented was part of a prospective, randomized, multicenter first-in-man trial investigating the safety and effectiveness of nitinol-supported venous grafts in coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. From our clinic, 25 subjects with multivessel coronary artery disease requiring saphenous vein graft CABG of the right coronary artery (RCA) and the circumflex artery were entered into the trial. Subjects were randomized to receive a mesh-supported graft on one of these arteries; the other vessel received an untreated vein graft. Graft patency was assessed by coronary angiography nine months after surgery. The implantation of mesh grafts was simple and safe. In 10 cases, a nitinol mesh-supported venous graft was anastomosed to the circumflex artery and in 15 cases to the RCA. All patients survived the observation period. A total of 72% of the patients underwent control coronary angiography. The patency rate of mesh-supported grafts was 27.8% nine months postoperatively. Conventional vein grafts showed an 85.7% patency, and arterial grafts had a 100% patency. No complications directly related to the implantation of mesh-supported grafts were observed. The promising experimental results of mesh-supported venous grafts could not be reproduced in the study presented. A critical item seems to be correct selection of nitinol mesh diameter, the anastomotic method and fixation of the mesh tube to the venous graft.