Ulnar Artery as a Coronary Bypass Graft

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Abstract

Background.

The ulnar artery has been used as a coronary bypass graft in 8 patients when it was deemed unsafe to harvest the radial artery after evaluation of the arterial circulation in the forearm and hand.

Methods.

The ulnar artery was removed from the lower three quarters of the forearm, along with its satellite veins. Dissection was commenced distally near the wrist and extended proximally to where the ulnar artery passed between the two heads of origin of the flexor digitorum superficialis. The artery was divided distally above the wrist joint and proximally at a point immediately below the origin of the common interosseus artery.

Results.

Ten ulnar arteries were removed for use as coronary artery bypass grafts; two were rejected, one because of severe calcification and the other because of atherosclerotic occlusion. The remaining eight ulnar arteries were grafted successfully to coronary arteries other than the left anterior descending. No early hand or cardiac complications were observed.

Conclusions.

The ulnar artery is an alternative coronary artery bypass graft that may be used when the radial artery is dominant and cannot be removed without risk. The ulnar artery is in close proximity to the ulnar nerve and harvesting has the potential to injure the nerve. Therefore, until the use of the ulnar artery has been more fully evaluated it should be used only when other options have been exhausted.

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