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This article is the author’s final published version in World Journal of Cardiology, Volume 13, Issue 9, September 2021, Pages 493-502.

The published version is available at Copyright © Nardone et al.


Background: Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) of diseased saphenous vein grafts (SVG) continues to pose a clinical challenge. Current PCI guidelines give a class III recommendation against performing PCI on chronically occluded SVG. However, contemporary outcomes after SVG intervention have incrementally improved with distal protection devices, intracoronary vasodilators, drug-eluting stents, and prolonged dual antiplatelet therapy.

Aim: To reassess the procedural and long-term outcomes of PCI for totally occluded SVG with contemporary techniques.

Methods: This was a retrospective observational study conducted at a single university hospital. The study population consisted of 35 consecutive patients undergoing PCI of totally occluded SVG. Post-procedure dual antiplatelet therapy was continued for a minimum of one year and aspirin was continued indefinitely. Clinical outcomes were assessed at a mean follow-up of 1221 ± 1038 d. The primary outcome was freedom from a major adverse cardiac event (MACE) defined as the occurrence of any of the following: death, myocardial infarction, stroke, repeat bypass surgery, repeat PCI, or graft reocclusion.

Results: The study group included 29 men and 6 women with a mean age of 69 ± 12 years. Diabetes was present in 14 (40%) patients. All patients had Canadian Heart Classification class III or IV angina. Clinical presentation was an acute coronary syndrome in 34 (97%) patients. Mean SVG age was 12 ± 5 years. Estimated duration of occlusion was acute (< 24 h) in 34% of patients, subacute (> 24 h to 30 d) in 26%, and late (> 30 d) in 40%. PCI was initially successful in 29/35 SVG occlusions (83%). Total stent length was 52 ± 35 mm. Intraprocedural complications of distal embolization or no-reflow occurred in 6 (17%) patients. During longer term follow-up, MACE-free survival was only 30% at 3 years and 17% at 5 years.

Conclusion: PCI of totally occluded SVG can be performed with a high procedural success rate. However, its clinical utility remains limited by poor follow-up outcomes.

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