Regression of coronary disease after bypass surgery: Urban myth or common finding?

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Abstract

Objectives:

Coronary artery disease has been viewed as a relentless, progressive disease. We sought to describe the prevalence and distribution of regression of native vessel disease in coronary artery bypass patients and characterize its relationship with bypass grafting.

Methods:

Among 619 patients who underwent bypass surgery in a radial artery trial, 405 had follow-up angiography available a mean of 6.2 ± 3.1 years (range, 0-14) after surgery. The percentage of diameter stenosis of each major native coronary vessel was reported by 3 cardiac specialists and classified into grades of nonflow limiting (0%-39%), moderate (40%-69%), flow limiting (70%-80%), severely stenosed (81%-99%), and occluded (100%). Native vessel disease regression was defined as decrease in 1 or more grades of stenosis between the pre- and postoperative angiograms.

Results:

A total of 1742 native coronary arteries had preoperative stenosis of at least 40% and were included in the present analysis, receiving 753 arterial grafts and 391 saphenous vein grafts. Overall, the prevalence of disease regression was 19.7%, and 45% of patients demonstrated regression in 1 or more vessels. The presence of an arterial graft increased the likelihood of disease regression (21.3% compared with 16% for venous bypassed vessels, P = .012) as did the location in the left circulation (22.6% compared with 13.9% for the right circulation, P < .001) and having a flow-limiting (≥70%) lesion (21.9% compared with 9.8% for moderate lesions, P < .001).

Conclusions:

Native coronary artery disease regression after coronary artery bypass grafting is common and affected by conduit type, vessel location, and lesion severity. Surgeons must consider these factors when assessing the requirement for bypass grafts in a borderline lesion.

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