Harvesting the Radial Artery: Does It Affect Early Postoperative Hand Function?
Background: The radial artery (RA) is increasingly being used as a conduit for coronary artery bypass grafting. Previous studies have demonstrated that there is no significant deterioration in hand function in the long term. The aim of this study was to assess whether removal of the RA caused any alteration in the function or power of the hand 5 days postoperatively that would affect the patient's ability for self care on returning home.
Methods: A consecutive series of 37 patients undergoing RA harvesting was assessed over a period of 12 months from August 2000 to July 2001 as part of a prospective controlled trial. Grip power and fine motor skills in the operated hand were assessed preoperatively with an elasticated grip strength tester and an 18-hole peg board. This test was repeated 5 days postoperatively. The results were analyzed with a paired-sample t test to assess whether there was a significant difference between preoperative and postoperative hand function.
Results: The analysis showed that there was no statistically significant difference in fine motor function or grip power following surgery to harvest the RA.
Conclusion: This study provides evidence to suggest that the RA can be safely harvested for use as a conduit in coronary artery bypass grafting, with no significant short-term deterioration in hand function.
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