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J Vasc Surg. 1986 Feb;3(2):204-15.

The natural history of endothelial structure and function in arterialized vein grafts.


When the saphenous vein is used in the in situ position for arterial bypass surgery, it is associated with more optimal preservation of the endothelial lining and with improved graft patency compared with reversed vein grafts. However, it is not clear whether preservation of endothelial integrity persists after arterialization. The goal of this study was to establish whether preservation of the endothelium before arterialization is a critical factor in the development of late functional and morphologic abnormalities of autogenous vein grafts. Paired reversed and in situ vein grafts were created in 75 mongrel dogs. Veins to be used in the reversed position were excised and stored in either heparinized whole blood at 37 degrees C or saline solution at 4 degrees C. Veins were studied before and after arterialization. The veins were arterialized by anastomosis to the carotid artery and excised at intervals of 1 day to 12 weeks for studies of the luminal production of prostacyclin and thromboxane A2 in addition to luminal morphology. Before arterialization, normothermic whole blood preserved biochemical function of the endothelium significantly better than hypothermic saline solution, but not as well as the in situ vein procedure. Soon after arterialization, all three vein grafts showed significant functional and morphologic abnormalities consistent with injury of the vein graft. Morphologic healing of the endothelial monolayer progressed slowly back to normal; however, the biochemical capacity of the vein graft never matched that of the prearterialized vein, nor that of normal host arteries. Regardless of surgical technique, all vein grafts exhibited a period of abnormal structure and function, which exposed them to the risk of thrombogenesis. This period of potential leukocyte or platelet interaction with the vein wall could lead to release phenomena as well as proliferative changes in the vessel wall.

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