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Background There remains uncertainty regarding the second-best conduit after the internal thoracic artery in coronary artery bypass grafting. Few studies directly compared the clinical results of the radial artery ( RA ), right internal thoracic artery ( RITA ), and saphenous vein ( SV ). No network meta-analysis has compared these 3 strategies. Methods and Results MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched for adjusted observational studies and randomized controlled trials comparing the RA , SV , and/or RITA as the second conduit for coronary artery bypass grafting. The primary end point was all-cause long-term mortality. Secondary end points were operative mortality, perioperative stroke, perioperative myocardial infarction, and deep sternal wound infection ( DSWI ). Pairwise and network meta-analyses were performed. A total of 149 902 patients (4 randomized, 31 observational studies) were included ( RA , 16 201, SV , 112 018, RITA, 21 683). At NMA , the use of SV was associated with higher long-term mortality compared with the RA (incidence rate ratio, 1.23; 95% CI , 1.12-1.34) and RITA (incidence rate ratio, 1.26; 95% CI , 1.17-1.35). The risk of DSWI for SV was similar to RA but lower than RITA (odds ratio, 0.71; 95% CI , 0.55-0.91). There were no differences for any outcome between RITA and RA , although DSWI trended higher with RITA (odds ratio, 1.39; 95% CI , 0.92-2.1). The risk of DSWI in bilateral internal thoracic artery studies was higher when the skeletonization technique was not used. Conclusions The use of the RA or the RITA is associated with a similar and statistically significant long-term clinical benefit compared with the SV . There are no differences in operative risk or complications between the 2 arterial conduits, but DSWI remains a concern with bilateral ITA when skeletonization is not used.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Heart Assoc

Publication Date





arterial conduits, coronary artery bypass, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, saphenous vein graft, Coronary Artery Bypass, Coronary Artery Disease, Humans, Network Meta-Analysis, Radial Artery, Saphenous Vein