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Ann Thorac Surg. 1997 Jun;63(6):1613-8.

Risk factors and solutions for the development of neurobehavioral changes after coronary artery bypass grafting.

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Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, The Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157, USA.



As operative mortality for coronary artery bypass grafting has decreased, greater attention has focused on neurobehavioral complications of coronary artery bypass grafting and cardiopulmonary bypass.


To assess risk factors and to evaluate changes in surgical technique, between 1991 and 1994 we evaluated 395 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting with an 11-part neurobehavioral battery administered preoperatively and at 1 and 6 weeks postoperatively. Patients were instrumented with 5-MHz focused continuous-wave carotid Doppler transducers intraoperatively to estimate cerebral microembolism as an instantaneous perturbation of the velocity signal. Microembolism data were quantitated and compared with surgical technical maneuvers during operation and with neurobehavioral deficit (> or = 20% decline from preoperative performance on two or more neurobehavioral tests) postoperatively. These data and patient demographics were statistically analyzed (chi2, t test) and the results at 2 years (1991 and 1992; group A) were used to influence surgical technique in 1993 and 1994 (group B).


Significantly associated with new neurobehavioral deficits were increasing patient age (p < 0.05), more than 100 emboli per case (p < 0.04), and palpable aortic plaque (p < 0.02). Group B patients had a significant decline in the neurobehavioral event rate (group A, 69%, 140/203; versus group B, 60%, 115/192; p < 0.05) of postoperative neurobehavioral deficits at 1 week and at 1 month (group A, 29%, 52/180; versus group B, 18%, 35/198; p < 0.01). The stroke rate was less than 2% in both groups (p = not significant). Modifications of surgical technique used in group B patients included increased use of single cross-clamp technique, increased venting of the left ventricle, and application of transesophageal and epiaortic ultrasound scanning to locate and avoid trauma to aortic atherosclerotic plaques.


Neurobehavioral changes after coronary artery bypass grafting are common and associated with cerebral microembolization. Surgical technical maneuvers designed to reduce emboli production may improve neurobehavioral outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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