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Heart Surg Forum. 2005;8(6):E434-6.

Embolic activity subsequent to injection of the internal mammary artery with papaverine hydrochloride.

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Department of Surgery and Community & Family Medicine and Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH 03756, USA.



Neurologic injury is a rare yet devastating outcome of coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. Mechanisms producing both focal and global neurologic injuries include embolization, cerebral hypoperfusion, and hypotension. In this present study, we report an association between variations in the treatment of the internal mammary artery with the detection of cerebral embolic signals.


An intensive intraoperative neurologic and physiologic monitoring approach was implemented to associate discrete processes of clinical care with the concurrent detection of cerebral embolic signals, cerebral hypoperfusion, and hypotension. The method of treating the left internal mammary artery was tracked among 68 patients undergoing isolated coronary artery bypass grafting. Cerebral embolic signals were counted within 3 minutes of the treatment of the left internal mammary artery.


Among a series of 68 patients undergoing isolated coronary artery bypass grafting, 22 were not treated with papaverine. Of those treated, 12 received injection intraluminally and 28 had a topical application. Embolic signals were noted concurrently among 7 patients receiving injection of papaverine. No embolic signals were noted among patients who were treated topically.


We report an association between the injection of papaverine hydrochloride and cerebral embolic signals. Our findings suggest that adoption of topical applications of papaverine hydrochloride may offer opportunities to reduce a portion of cerebral embolic signals in the setting of coronary artery bypass grafting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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