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Ann Thorac Surg. 2013 Aug;96(2):543-7. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2013.04.039. Epub 2013 Jun 15.

Fasudil is a superior vasodilator for the internal thoracic artery in coronary surgery.

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Department of General and Cardiothoracic Surgery, Kanazawa University Graduate School of Medical Science, Kanazawa, Japan.



The internal thoracic artery (ITA) is a very useful conduit for coronary artery bypass artery (CABG), with excellent long-term patency. With the purpose to dilate the ITA graft and increase graft free flow (GFF) intraoperatively, we evaluated the usefulness of intraluminal injection of fasudil, a Rho-kinase inhibitor, in comparison to the conventional graft dilating agent, papaverine.


Between June 2011 and January 2012, 30 patients with ischemic heart disease who underwent isolated CABG using ITA were enrolled. The patients were randomly assigned to 2 groups: the fasudil group (n = 15) in which fasudil solution 0.9 mg/dL was injected into the ITA, and the papaverine group (n = 15) in which papaverine solution (0.4 mg/mL) mixed with heparinized blood was used. Outcome measures were left ITA GFF, heart rate, and mean blood pressure during flow measurements, and histopathologic examination of the ITA.


In the fasudil group, GFF increased significantly (p < 0.01) from 19.7 ± 15.2 mL/minute at baseline to 66.9 ± 31.7 mL/minute after fasudil injection. In the papaverine group, GFF increased significantly (p < 0.01) from 22.9 ± 17.3 mL/minute at baseline to 44.8 ± 26.7 mL/minute after papaverine injection. Blood pressure and heart rate did not change significantly after drug injection in both groups. The GFF was significantly higher (p = 0.038) in fasudil-treated ITA than in papaverine-treated ITA. Histopathologically, the diameter of the ITA was markedly increased after fasudil injection. Elastica van Gieson staining showed that the multiple elastic lamellae structure was intact.


Fasudil exhibited very potent vasodilatory effect on the ITA compared with conventional papaverine resulting in increased GFF. This agent is a useful graft dilating agent.



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