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Semin Vasc Surg. 2009 Dec;22(4):227-33. doi: 10.1053/j.semvascsurg.2009.10.004.

Technical factors in lower-extremity vein bypass surgery: how can we improve outcomes?

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Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Lower-extremity vein bypass surgery has been a standard operation in the armamentarium of vascular surgeons for more than 4 decades. Yet there remains surprising heterogeneity in the utilization, techniques, and outcomes associated with this procedure in current practice. Despite improvements in surgical technique and careful postoperative surveillance, vein graft failure remains a significant clinical problem affecting up to 50% of patients within 5 years. Experience, clinical judgment, creativity, and technical precision are required to optimize long-term results. Many factors, including patient-specific comorbidities, and variable biologic responses in the venous conduit, influence the ultimate outcome. Technical factors, however, play a dominant role in determining clinical success. Multiple single-center reports, and more recent multicenter trials, have clearly demonstrated that conduit selection and quality is the most critical element. An adequate caliber (>/=3.5 mm), good quality great saphenous vein is the optimal graft for infrainguinal bypass. Contralateral great saphenous vein, arm vein, and lesser saphenous vein are the next most desirable conduits. Graft configuration (reversed, nonreversed, or in situ) appears to have little influence on outcomes per se. Shorter grafts have improved patency. Inflow can be improved by surgical or endovascular means if necessary, and distal-origin grafts perform as well as those originating from the common femoral artery. The selected outflow vessel should supply unimpeded runoff to the foot, conserve conduit length, and allow for adequate soft-tissue coverage of the graft and a simplified surgical exposure. This review summarizes the data linking technical factors with graft patency, highlighting the importance of surgical judgment and operative planning in the current practice of infrainguinal bypass surgery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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