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BACKGROUND: The use of radial-artery grafts for coronary-artery bypass grafting (CABG) may result in better postoperative outcomes than the use of saphenous-vein grafts. However, randomized, controlled trials comparing radial-artery grafts and saphenous-vein grafts have been individually underpowered to detect differences in clinical outcomes. We performed a patient-level combined analysis of randomized, controlled trials to compare radial-artery grafts and saphenous-vein grafts for CABG. METHODS: Six trials were identified. The primary outcome was a composite of death, myocardial infarction, or repeat revascularization. The secondary outcome was graft patency on follow-up angiography. Mixed-effects Cox regression models were used to estimate the treatment effect on the outcomes. RESULTS: A total of 1036 patients were included in the analysis (534 patients with radial-artery grafts and 502 patients with saphenous-vein grafts). After a mean (±SD) follow-up time of 60±30 months, the incidence of adverse cardiac events was significantly lower in association with radial-artery grafts than with saphenous-vein grafts (hazard ratio, 0.67; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.49 to 0.90; P=0.01). At follow-up angiography (mean follow-up, 50±30 months), the use of radial-artery grafts was also associated with a significantly lower risk of occlusion (hazard ratio, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.28 to 0.70; P<0.001). As compared with the use of saphenous-vein grafts, the use of radial-artery grafts was associated with a nominally lower incidence of myocardial infarction (hazard ratio, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.53 to 0.99; P=0.04) and a lower incidence of repeat revascularization (hazard ratio, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.40 to 0.63; P<0.001) but not a lower incidence of death from any cause (hazard ratio, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.59 to 1.41; P=0.68). CONCLUSIONS: As compared with the use of saphenous-vein grafts, the use of radial-artery grafts for CABG resulted in a lower rate of adverse cardiac events and a higher rate of patency at 5 years of follow-up. (Funded by Weill Cornell Medicine and others.).

Original publication




Journal article


N Engl J Med

Publication Date





2069 - 2077


Aged, Coronary Angiography, Coronary Artery Bypass, Coronary Artery Disease, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Myocardial Infarction, Postoperative Complications, Proportional Hazards Models, Radial Artery, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Reoperation, Saphenous Vein, Treatment Failure, Vascular Patency