Harvesting the Radial Artery: Does It Affect Early Postoperative Hand Function?

  • R. A. Sankey
  • A. P. Rumian
  • W. Jackson
  • M. Osborne
  • R. DeL. Stanbridge


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.


Pola P, Serricchio M, Flore R, Manasse E, Favuzzi A, Possati GF. 1996. Safe removal of the radial artery for myocardial revascularization: a Doppler study to prevent ischemic complications to the hand. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 112:737-44.\nPossati G, Gaudino M, Alessandrini F, et al. 1998. Midterm clinical and angiographic results of radial artery grafts used for myocardial revascularization. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 116:1015-21.\nRoyse AG, Royse CF, Shah P, Williams A, Kaushik S, Tatoulis J. 1999. Radial artery harvest technique, use and functional outcome. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 15:186-93.\nRoyse AG, Royse CF, Tatoulis J. 1999. Total arterial coronary revascularization and factors influencing in-hospital mortality. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 16:499-505.\nRuengsakulrach P, Eizenberg N, Fahrer C, Fahrer M, Buxton BF. 2001.\nSurgical implications of variations in hand collateral circulation: anatomy revisited. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 122:682-6.\nSadaba JR, Conroy JL, Burniston M, Maughan J, Munsch C. 2001. Effect of radial artery harvesting on tissue perfusion and function of the hand. Cardiovasc Surg 9:378-82.\nBrodman RF, Frame R, Camacho M, Hu E, Chen A, Hollinger I. 1996. Routine use of unilateral and bilateral radial arteries for coronary artery bypass graft surgery. J Am Coll Cardiol 28:959-63.\nChen AH, Nakao T, Brodman RF, et al. 1996. Early postoperative angiographic assessment of radial grafts used for coronary artery bypass grafting. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 111:1208-12.\nDumanian GA, Segalman K, Mispireta LA, Walsh JA, Hendrickson MF, Wilgis EF. 1998. Radial artery use in bypass grafting does not change digital blood flow or hand function. Ann Thorac Surg 65:1284-7.\nHayes EC, L Ecuyer KM. 1998. A standard of care for radial artery grafting. Am J Crit Care 7:429-35.\nJarvis MA, Jarvis C, Jones P, Spyt T. 2000. Reliability of Allen's test in selection of patients for radial artery harvest. Ann Thorac Surg 70:1362-5.\nNunoo-Mensah J. 1998. An unexpected complication after harvesting of the radial artery for coronary artery bypass grafting. Ann Thorac Surg 66:929-31.\nSaeed I, Anyanwu A, Yacoub M, Amrani M. 2001. Subjective patient outcomes following coronary bypass using the radial artery: results of a cross-sectional survey of harvest site complications and quality of life. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 20:1142-6.\nSilva J, Malillos S, Villasenor M, et al. 2000. Midterm results of coronary bypass surgery exclusively with arterial revascularization. Rev Esp Cardiol 53:1201-8.\nWolff CA, Scott C, Banks TA. 1997. The radial artery: an exciting alternative conduit in coronary artery bypass surgery. Crit Care Nurse 17:34-9.\n