Thirty three patients with coronary artery disease undergoing combined myocardial revascularisation with internal mammary artery and saphenous vein grafts underwent angiographic studies up to 10 years after operation. Each patient had one internal mammary artery graft and one or more saphenous vein grafts. Eleven symptom-free patients, studies one month to five years (mean 1.9 years) after operation, had intact internal mammary artery and saphenous vein grafts in a good state of preservation. Of the six patients developing symptoms within the first year after surgery, three had evidence of poor flow in the internal mammary artery graft because of large side branches and the other three had stenosis or occlusion of the saphenous vein grafts. Sixteen patients developed symptoms after several years free of symptoms and were studied three to 10 years (mean six years) after operation. Of the 23 saphenous vein grafts in this group, 17 (74%) were either occluded or severely stenosed and six (26%) were in good condition. One internal mammary artery graft was occluded and the remaining 15 were in good condition. Saphenous vein graft failure was the predominant cause of late development of symptoms in patients with combined revascularisation. Long term performance of the internal mammary artery grafts is far superior to the saphenous vein grafts.
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