Oxygen Pressure Measurement During Grip Exercise Reveals Exercise Intolerance After Radial Harvest

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Exercise intolerance of the hand after harvest of the radial artery is not well understood, although mild reductions of blood flow to the hand are reported. To ascertain its prevalence, patient symptoms implying potential exercise intolerance were evaluated by measuring transcutaneous oxygen pressure of the hand during grip exercise. For ascertaining predictive values, we verified ulnar flow reserve measured by Doppler ultrasonography before the harvest of radial artery.


Forty patients whose radial artery was harvested for coronary bypass graft, were interviewed and tested 1 year after operation, and their preoperative ultrasonographic data compared.


Five patients (12.5%) had mild symptoms implying exercise intolerance. Exercise tests revealed severe decreases in tissue oxygenation in 7 patients (17.5%), but in accordance with symptoms (p = 0.0018). Tissue oxygenation in the operated hand was lower than in the nonoperated even in asymptomatic patients (p = 0.0011). Preoperative Doppler echography revealed that ulnar arteries of symptomatic patients were smaller (p = 0.0019) and carried lower blood flows during manual compression of the radial artery (p = 0.0004) compared with those of asymptomatic patients. Smaller ulnar arteries (less than 1.4 mm/m2) with poor flow reserves (less than 60 mL · min−1 · m−2 during radial compression) appear to indicate risks for exercise intolerance (p = 0.0004).


More than 10% of patients after harvest of radial arteries had mild symptoms implying exercise-intolerance, which accorded with abnormal tissue oxygenation during grip exercise. Work habits of patients should be considered in radial harvest decisions, especially if preoperative Doppler echography indicates lower flow reserves for the ulnar artery.

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