BACKGROUND - The long-term clinical advantages of using routine multiple internal mammary artery (IMA) grafts for coronary artery bypass (CAB) are not clear. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that multiple IMA grafts would provide better 15-year outcomes when compared with single IMA and vein grafts.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Between 1984 and 1987, 1067 consecutive patients undergoing isolated CAB were referred to 1 surgeon practicing primarily single and another surgeon maximizing multiple IMA grafts (clinical practice trial). A 207-patient subset with multiple IMAs underwent postoperative graft angiography at 1 to 32 weeks to define initial IMA patency. Patients were followed-up yearly, and the groups were analyzed as (I) surgical strategy (surgeon operating) (single=413 versus multiple=654), (II) ultimate operation performed (single=418 versus multiple=449), or (III) single versus multiple coronary systems revascularized with IMAs (single=490 versus multiple=377). Advantages of this study design were that an entire referral population was examined, multiple IMAs were applied to the entire spectrum of baseline patient risk, 15-year follow-up provided a complete prognostic picture, and the subgroups were potentially comparable at baseline. In all 3 analyses, single and multiple groups were statistically similar with respect to baseline, operative, and immediate postoperative variables. Early IMA patency was 98.5% (333/338 grafts patent), validating the quality of IMA procedures. Unadjusted and adjusted 15-year outcome analyses for I, II, and III for death, myocardial infarction, percutaneous coronary intervention, redo coronary bypass, and the composite of all events identified multiple versus single as a significant predictor of outcome for the composite end point in adjusted analysis III (hazard ratio=0.808; 95% CI, 0.689 to 0.948; P=0.009), because of a 5% to 10% absolute reduction in each of the outcome variables at 15 years. Moreover, >50% reduction in reoperation rate was observed at 15 years in every analysis.
CONCLUSIONS - At 15-year follow-up, multiple IMA grafting was associated with a 19.2% adjusted risk reduction in death and cardiac events, caused by decreases in all adverse end points and fewer reoperations. These data indicate that the clinical advantages of maximizing IMA conduits are significant. Based on this information, it is suggested that multiple IMA grafting to 2 coronary systems should be applied liberally to patients with noncardiac risk profiles predictive of long-term survival.