Did you know that donations to The Common Good fund a number of medical research grants and fellowships? Doctor Andrew Haymet recently received an Innovation Grant from The Common Good for his research investigating new ways to improve outcomes in coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
What is a coronary artery bypass graft surgery?
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) is a procedure used to treat people with coronary artery disease. The condition causes a narrowing of the arteries which decreases the blood flow to the heart. If the artery becomes blocked completely it can cause a heart attack.
Peripheral bypass graft surgery is performed for the same condition, affecting the legs. Impaired blood supply to the legs can cause pain whilst walking short distances or even during periods of activities. But the condition isn’t only painful – may result in limb loss.
The current treatment of coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG)
One way to treat a blocked or narrowed artery is to bypass the blockage with a piece of healthy blood vessel. This is referred to as a graft and is taken from elsewhere in the body. The grant is usually a segment of vein taken from the leg. It can also be a segment of artery from the arm. During the bypass surgery, the graft is harvested and then often kept temporarily in a saline solution ready for implantation. The graft may be kept in the solution for 45 minutes or longer.
However up to 5% of grafts may fail at one month and up to 15% at one year post surgery. This failure can lead to serious consequences, including a heart attack or a threatened leg. There are currently no specific guidelines for the optimal storage solution for grafts during the surgery.
Haymet’s Research Journey
Vascular Surgery Registrar and PhD candidate, Dr Haymet’s research is investigating new ways of storing grafts to deliver better outcomes to patients. His research involves storing the grafts in a solution usually used to preserve donor organs during transportation to an organ recipient.
“I am investigating whether the simple intervention of storing the graft in a specific organ preservation solution will better preserve the lining of the graft, reduce the loss of proteins which protect against clotting, and potentially reduce postoperative complications, compared to the standard practice of using a saline solution” – Dr Andrew Haymet
Dr Haymet’s research is significant as The Prince Charles Hospital’s Cardiothoracic Unit performs approximately 40% of all CABG procedures in Queensland.