The saphenous vein is the usual choice of graft vessel for coronary bypass surgery because it is long, relatively accessible, and located close to other veins into which its blood will channel. But is it the best blood vessel for this procedure? Baylor College of Medicine researchers in Houston are among those trying to find out.
So far, their biochemical studies show definite changes in the saphenous vein when it is placed in an arterial bed. But it remains unclear whether these changes contribute to any loss of patency and eventual degeneration of the vessel.
One potential problem, point out Julius C. Allen, PhD, and Charles L. Seidel, PhD, of Baylor's Section of Cardiovascular Sciences, is that the vein is grafted into a completely different environment. In addition, says Dr Allen, associate professor of medicine, the vein undergoes the trauma of handling after excision, which causes denervation and interrupts the