A systematic review of the outcomes of distal upper extremity bypass surgery with arterial and venous conduits

Derek L. Masden, Mitchel Seruya, James P. Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Purpose: To conduct a systematic review of literature evaluating efficacy of venous and arterial grafts for distal upper extremity bypass surgery. Methods: A PubMed search using MeSH terms "veins/surgery" OR "arteries/surgery" AND "radial artery/surgery" OR "ulnar artery/surgery" yielded 794 studies. Manual review produced 42 studies based on inclusion criteria of reported distal upper extremity bypass surgery, complete information on graft type used, examined patency of reconstruction, and described method for determining patency. Studies meeting inclusion criteria underwent data extraction focusing on demographics, revascularization site, conduit type, microsurgical technique, subjective/objective outcomes, and postoperative anticoagulation regimens. Results: Sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria. In 145 patients, 152 grafts were performed for upper extremity revascularization, including 120 grafts for revascularization of distal ulnar artery circulation, 31 for distal radial artery circulation, and 1 for both distal ulnar and radial artery occlusions. Overall patency rate was 87% at an average follow-up of 34 months. Of 152 bypass grafts, 19 were arterial conduits. Donor sites included the deep inferior epigastric artery, subscapular artery, thoracodorsal artery, and descending branch of the lateral femoral circumflex artery. At a mean follow-up of 18 months, arterial conduit patency was 100%. The remaining 133 bypass procedures used vein grafts from various donor sites, including the saphenous, cephalic, and basilic veins. At an average follow-up of 37 months, overall vein graft patency rate was 85%. There was a statistically significant difference between patency rates of arterial conduits compared with venous conduits. All studies reported improved ischemic symptoms including reduction of cold sensitivity, pain, and digital ulceration. Conclusions: This review showed a high patency rate and clinical efficacy of distal upper extremity bypass surgery with a mean follow-up of almost 3 years. There may be a benefit of using arterial versus venous conduits, although further examination is needed given the small number of arterial reconstructions reported. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2362-2367
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Bypass grafts
  • hypothenar hammer syndrome
  • radial artery thrombosis
  • ulnar artery thrombosis
  • vaso-occlusive disease of the hand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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