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Histol Histopathol. 2004 Apr;19(2):421-33. doi: 10.14670/HH-19.421.

Human saphenous vein and coronary bypass surgery: ultrastructural aspects of conventional and "no-touch" vein graft preparations.

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Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology and Centre for Neuroscience, University College London, London, UK.


Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) is routinely used to restore blood flow to diseased cardiac muscle due to coronary artery disease. The patency of conventional grafts decreases with time, which is due to thrombosis and formation of neointima. A primary cause of graft failure is the mechanical damage inflicted to the graft during harvesting, including removal of surrounding tissue accompanied by high pressure saline distension to overcome vasospasm (both causing considerable mechanical trauma). The aim of this study was to compare the ultrastructural features of human saphenous vein (SV) grafts harvested conventionally and grafts prepared using an atraumatic 'no-touch' harvesting technique introduced by Souza (1996). The results of this study showed a better preservation of the lumenal endothelium and medial vascular smooth muscle (SM) in 'no-touch' versus conventional grafts. A 'fast' (within 30 min) response of SM cells to conventional harvesting was noted where features of both SM cell division and apoptosis were observed. It is concluded that the 'preserved' nature of the 'no-touch' aortocoronary SV grafts renders them less susceptible to thrombotic and atherosclerotic factors than grafts harvested conventionally. These features are suggested to contribute to the improved early patency rate described using the no-touch technique of SV harvesting.

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