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Surgical reconstruction of the left main coronary artery with patch-angioplasty
© Martinovic and Greve; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2011
Received: 15 June 2010
Accepted: 4 March 2011
Published: 4 March 2011
Conventional coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) has been established as the treatment of choice for left main coronary artery (LMCA) stenosis However, the conventional grafting provides a retrograde perfusion to extensive myocardial area and leads prospectively to competitive flow of the non-occluded coronaries thus consuming the grafts. Surgical reconstruction of the LMCA with patch-angioplasty is an alternative method that eliminates these drawbacks.
Between February 1997 and July 2007, 37 patients with isolated LMCA stenosis were referred for surgical ostial reconstruction. In 27 patients (73%) surgical angioplasties have been performed. All patients were followed up clinically and with transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) and coronary angiography when required.
In 10 patients (27%) a LMCA stenosis could not be confirmed. There were no early mortality or perioperative myocardial infarctions. The postoperative course was uneventful in all patients. In 25 patients, TEE demonstrated a wide open main stem flow pattern one to six months after reconstruction of the left main coronary artery with one patch mild aneurysmal dilated.
The surgical reconstruction with patch-angioplasty is a safe and effective method for the treatment of proximal and middle LMCA stenosis. Almost one third of the study group had no really LMCA stenosis: antegrade flow pattern remained sustained and the arterial grafts have been spared. In the cases of unclear or suspected LMCA stenosis, cardio-CT can be performed to unmask catheter-induced coronary spasm as the underlying reason for isolated LMCA stenosis.
It has been estimated that isolated left main coronary artery (LMCA) stenosis accounts about 1% of all cases of coronary artery disease [1, 2]. Isolated ostial stenosis of the LMCA is mostly caused by atherosclerotic plaques . Idiopathic fibromuscular hyperplasia and inflammatory diseases such as post-radiation aortitis, syphilitic- and Takayasu aortitis are rare causes of the LMCA stenosis [4, 5]. Isolated LMCA stenosis are diagnosed usually by coronary angiography, but this investigation itself can cause main coronary artery spasms . If these patients are treated by drugs, the 4- and 6-year survivel rates are 65 and 44% respectively . Despite of increasing catheter-based procedures with PTCA and stenting of the LMCA, the results lead clearly to conclusion that the surgical treatment, conventionally by coronary bypass surgery remains the procedure of choice. Patch angioplasty was introduced in 1965 by Sabiston and colleagues, as well as Effler and colleagues [8, 9], but was soon abandoned because of the high operative mortality. Hitchock et al revived the concept 20 years later and suggested that angioplasty is a valuable alternative to CABG with excellent results . Since then, only few small groups have been enthusiastic reported with very good results. However, patch angioplasty has not been accepted as a standard method of treatment. Long-term results regarding the patency rate and clinical outcome after the patch LMCA angioplasty, contrary to CABG, are limited.
The aim of the present study was to review the mid to long-term outcomes of LMCA ostial reconstruction with saphenous vein patch at our center.
Patients and Methods
The study group consisted of 37 patients with isolated LMCA stenosis referred for surgical ostial reconstruction, of 7200 patients who underwent surgical coronary revascularization at our center between February 1997 and July 2007. Age averaged 73 (46-87). 27 patients, (73%), were male. All patients were followed up clinically and with transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) yearly. Because of unclear chest pain in five patients, without changes in the ECG and TEE and the ischemia in one patient, six patients were followed up with coronary angiography.
Preoperative angiography demonstrated significant ostial LMCA stenosis in all patients.
Predominant aortic valve stenosis was present in 9 patients, predominant aortic valve incompetence in 2 patients. Diffuse, non significant coronary disease was present in 6 patients. Myocardial bridge over the LAD was present in one patient. Mild mitral valve incompetence was diagnosed in 3 patients. Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was good in 15, moderate in 9 and poor in 3 patients.
The average aortic cross-clamp time was 34 &(plusmn) 14 minutes (range 24-62 minutes, the CPB time 54 &(plusmn) 16 minutes (range 43-87 minutes), and the total duration of the operation 113 &(plusmn) 14 minutes (range 93-136 minutes).
The operation was uneventfull in all but one patient, who developed signs of ischemia in the ECG after disconnecting the extracorporal circulation. The branches of the left coronary artery were grafted in addition and IABP was started.
The postoperative course was uneventful in all cases. There was no in-hospital death. No postoperative myocardial infarction was observed. The mean stay in the ICU was 11.2 hours and the mean hospital stay 6.4 days. There were no significant clinical complications.
Coronary angiography is the standard procedure used to identify definitive coronary anatomy. Other methods are magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)  and Doppler-echocardiography , preferably by transesophageal approach . The proximal parts of the main coronary artery can be visualized very well by intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), and by electron-beam CT scanning . Invasive catheterization can lead to mechanically induced spasm of coronary arteries. In the cases of unclear or suspected LMCA stenosis, CT angiography can be performed to unmask catheter-induced coronary spasm as the underlying reason for isolated left main coronary artery stenosis seen in invasive angiography. Coronary vasospasm is defined as a decrease in the caliber of the coronary arteries with evidence of ischemia, commonly known as variant or Prinzmetal's angina. This degree of ischemia may be significant enough even in patients with normal coronaries to produce myocardial damage as indicated by elevated cardiac troponin I and cardiac arrest [16, 17]. Variant angina typically occurs during rest or at night. Cigarette smoking is the major risk factor for coronary vasospasm . Additional factors implicated in vasospasm include hypocalcemia, , sotalol , pseudoephedrine, , hyperventilation  and cocaine use . 10 of 37 patients in our cohort, reffered for surgical reconstruction of the LMCA had no really stenosis. The LMCA could have easily passed with a 5 mm probe. 8 of them had a concomitant aortic valvular disease. Dyspnea was a predominant symptom in these patients. A heavy spasm must have been occurred during angiography. For safety reasons one vein bypass was performed as suggested by Soga et al . In our opinion these patients have benefited of the plan to perform the reconstruction. Otherwise a competitive flow after CABG with patent LMCA would have consumed the grafts in this cohort very soon.
While single authors report good results of unprotected left main coronary artery PTCA and stenting, the results of the German PTCA Register show different experiences; the mortality rate was more than 9% in cases of angioplasty of unprotected LMCA stenosis and even of 4,8% in angioplasty of LMCA stenosis with very good collateralization.
These results lead to the conclusion that surgical treatment is much superior to PTCA. Ostial stenoses are treated customarily by performing coronary bypasses to both great branches of the left coronary artery. However, conventional CABG method restores less physiological, retrograde perfusion of the myocardium, may also lead to occlusion of the LMCA, can result in competitive flow and consumes bypass material. Surgical reconstruction of the LMCA avoids these potential inconveniencies, and additionally allows subsequent percutaneous coronary intervention of the distal coronary tree.
The surgical reconstruction with patch-angioplasty is a safe and effective method for the treatment of the proximal and the middle LMCA stenosis. Endarterectomy and reconstruction should be avoided in the case of distal left ostial stenosis and excessive calcification. Long term follow-up is required to determine the patency in order to evaluate this method. Left ostial stenosis could not be confirmed in almost one third of the study group: antegrade flow pattern remained sustained and the arterial grafts have been spared.
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