OBJECTIVE: To use intravascular ultrasound in vivo to evaluate changes in the intimal thickness of angiographically normal saphenous vein grafts one year after implantation. DESIGN: Fifteen saphenous vein grafts in 12 patients were examined one month and 12 months after aortocoronary bypass graft surgery with intravascular ultrasound using a 30 MHz transducer. None of the grafts examined showed any angiographic abnormalities. The intimal thickness and intimal area of the graft in the proximal portion were measured on intravascular ultrasound images obtained one month and 12 months after operation. SETTING: General hospital. PATIENTS: Twelve patients who underwent aortocoronary bypass graft surgery. RESULTS: The ultrasound images showed a thin-walled graft with a thin intima one month after operation (mean (SD)) (0.31 (0.09) mm). The intimal thickness of the graft increased significantly to 0.65 (0.08) mm (P < 0.001) 12 months after operation. The intimal area of the graft was 0.90 (0.80) mm2 one month after operation. 12 months after operation the intimal area had increased significantly to 5.26 (1.38) mm2 (P < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Intravascular ultrasound in vivo showed that one year after implantation angiographically normal saphenous vein grafts had a thicker intima than one month after implantation.
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