Does PGA external stenting reduce compliance mismatch in venous grafts?
BACKGROUND: Autogenous vein grafting is widely used in regular bypassing procedures. Due to its mismatch with the host artery in both mechanical property and geometry, the graft often over expands under high arterial blood pressure and forms a step-depth where eddy flow develops, thus causing restenosis, fibrous graft wall, etc. External stents, such as sheaths being used to cuff the graft, have been introduced to eliminate these mismatches and increase the patency. Although histological and immunochemical studies have shown some positive effects of the external stent, the mechanical mismatch under the protection of an external stent remains poorly analyzed. METHODS: In this study, the jugular veins taken from hypercholesterolemic rabbits were transplanted into the carotid arteries, and non-woven polyglycolic acid (PGA) fabric was used to fabricate the external stents to study the effect of the biodegradable external stent. Eight weeks after the operation, the grafts were harvested to perform mechanical tests and histological examinations. An arc tangent function was suggested to describe the relationship between pressure and cross-sectional area to analyse the compliance of the graft. RESULTS: The results from the mechanical tests indicated that grafts either with or without external stents displayed large compliance in the low-pressure range and were almost inextensible in the high-pressure range. This was very different from the behavior of the arteries or veins in vivo. The data from histological tests showed that, with external stents, collagen fibers were more compact, whilst those in the graft without protection were looser and thicker. No elastic fiber was found in either kind of grafts. Furthermore, grafts without protection were over-expanded which resulted in much bigger cross-sectional areas. CONCLUSION: The PGA external extent contributes little to the reduction of the mechanical mismatch between the graft and its host artery while remodeling develops. For the geometric mismatch, it reduces the cross-section area, therefore matching with the host artery much better. Although there are some positive effects, conclusively the PGA is not an ideal material for external stent.