Three Arterial Grafts Improve Late Survival: A Meta-Analysis of Propensity-Matched Studies

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Little evidence shows whether a third arterial graft provides superior outcomes compared with the use of 2 arterial grafts in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting. A meta-analysis of all the propensity score-matched observational studies comparing the long-term outcomes of coronary artery bypass grafting with the use of 2-arterial versus 3-arterial grafts was performed.


A literature search was conducted using MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Web of Science to identify relevant articles. Long-term mortality in the propensity score-matched populations was the primary end point. Secondary end points were in-hospital/30-day mortality for the propensity score-matched populations and long-term mortality for the unmatched populations. In the matched population, time-to-event outcome for long-term mortality was extracted as hazard ratios, along with their variance. Statistical pooling of survival (time-to-event) was performed according to a random effect model, computing risk estimates with 95% confidence intervals.


Eight propensity score-matched studies reporting on 10 287 matched patients (2-arterial graft: 5346; 3-arterial graft: 4941) were selected for final comparison. The mean follow-up time ranged from 37.2 to 196.8 months. The use of 3 arterial grafts was not statistically associated with early mortality (hazard ratio, 0.93; 95% confidence interval, 0.71–1.22; P=0.62). The use of 3 arterial grafts was associated with statistically significantly lower hazard for late death (hazard ratio, 0.8; 95% confidence interval, 0.75–0.87; P<0.001), irrespective of sex and diabetic mellitus status. This result was qualitatively similar in the unmatched population (hazard ratio, 0.57; 95% confidence interval, 0.33–0.98; P=0.04).


The use of a third arterial conduit in patients with coronary artery bypass grafting is not associated with higher operative risk and is associated with superior long-term survival, irrespective of sex and diabetic mellitus status.

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