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Reducing Complications in Vein Bypass Graft Surgery

Dr Andrew Haymet

Approximately One Third of All Australian Deaths are Caused from Cardiovascular Disease

Bypass surgery is used both in heart surgery and in peripheral vascular surgery to restore blood supply to tissues that aren’t getting enough oxygen, most commonly due to the thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by a buildup of plaque in the inner lining of an artery.

During bypass surgery, a piece of vein is harvested from a patient, most often from the leg, and used in either the heart muscle or in the leg to go around that blockage. Arteries are also used for this purpose, but this research is looking into vein grafts as they have a higher rate of blockage – between 3 and 12% of vein grafts block even before the patient has left the hospital.

“That usually means an emergency operation, at considerable expense to fix that graft. Obviously, that patient is at high risk of losing life or limb. If we can come up with ways to reduce that happening, that’s the basis of my research.” – Dr Andrew Haymet

The way in which a vein is extracted or harvested can influence the quality of its lining. A saline solution (salt water) is commonly used to store veins during bypass surgery. However, this study is hypothesizing whether we should be using other types of solutions, such as those that are used during organ transplants.

“We’re looking at the proteins that have a role in early clotting, and we’re looking at whether the expression of those proteins changes with solutions that we can use during surgery.”

Dr Andrew Haymet

MBBS, BEng (Mech)(Hons 1), Grad Dip (Surgical Anatomy)

Surgical Registrar + PhD Candidate, Critical Care Research Group/University of Queensland

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