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Clin Res Cardiol. 2006 Jan;95(1):48-53.

The coronary-subclavian-vertebral steal syndrome (CSVSS).

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Abteilung für Thorax-Herz-Gefässchirurgie, Klinikum "Links der Weser" Bremen, Senator Wesslingstrasse 1, 28277 Bremen, Germany.



Reverse flow in the internal thoracic artery (ITA) after coronary bypass surgery due to an occlusion or severe stenosis of the subclavian artery is a rare situation. Symptoms can be recurrent and intermittent angina pectoris in the case of a coronary-subclavian steal (CSSS) or-in addition with cerebral symptoms-in the case of a coronary-subclavian-vertebral steal syndrome (CSVSS).


We describe the cases of four patients with recurrent angina pectoris 5, 11, and 14 years as well as directly after coronary bypass surgery with LITA grafts to LAD. In two patients there was the additional aspect of vertebral steal symptoms with dizziness and intermittent drop attacks.


A PTA of the subclavian occlusions in three cases was not feasible, so that three patients were operated on by extrathoracal approach and carotido-subclavian bypass (CSB) in two cases, and local thrombendarteriectomy of the subclavian and vertebral artery (TEA)+ -patchplasty in one case. Patient 4 was treated by PTA and stent placement into the subclavian artery. Antegrade flow in all four LITAs could be achieved resulting in immediate relief from angina pectoris and cerebral symptoms. Patients 1 and 3 showed no further symptoms with equal BP of the upper extremities and anterograde flow in the LITA grafts and vertebral artery at 10-month follow-up. Patient 2 unfortunately died from an unrelated cause (asthmatic state) 4 months after the operation despite an uneventful recovery.


The occurrence of a CSSS or CSVSS after coronary bypass surgery with retrograde flow in the ITA graft (as described in our four patients) is a rare, but potentially hazardous, situation. If the subclavian occlusion is not amenable to endovascular strategies, the extrathoracal approach by CSB or local TEA and patchplasty provides an excellent means with good midterm and long-term results.

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