BACKGROUND: The iliofemoropopliteal artery significantly changes path length during normal hip and knee flexion. Prosthetic bypass grafts, such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) grafts, are relatively stiff and thus can subject graft anastomoses to high tension when the path length increases. The aim of this study was to examine the influence of length redundancy and twist on the biomechanical properties of PTFE bypass grafts. METHODS: Unreinforced and ring-reinforced PTFE grafts were loaded in an axial mechanical testing machine to measure the tensile and compressive axial forces with varying levels of length redundancy and axial twist. RESULTS: Adding 5-15% length redundancy to a graft decreases the force to cause 5% extension by > 90% without substantially increasing shortening forces. Adding 4.5°/cm of axial twist imparts a corkscrew shape to the graft without increasing extension or shortening forces in the presence of length redundancy. Ring-reinforced PTFE grafts require more length redundancy to experience these reductions in forces especially in the presence of axial twist. CONCLUSIONS: A modest amount of length redundancy and twist (i.e., a cork-screw condition) confers improved biomechanical properties in a PTFE graft, especially in ring-reinforced grafts. This should be taken into consideration when fashioning an arterial bypass graft in the iliofemoropopliteal segment.
Ann Vasc Surg