The saphenous vein remains the most frequently used conduit for coronary artery bypass grafting, despite reported unsatisfactory long-term patency rates. Understanding the pathophysiology of vein graft failure and attempting to improve its longevity has been a significant area of research for more than three decades. This article aims to review the current understanding of the pathophysiology and potential new intervention strategies.
A search of three databases: MEDLINE, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library, was undertaken for the terms “pathophysiology,” “prevention,” and “treatment” plus the term “vein graft failure.”
Saphenous graft failure is commonly the consequence of four different pathophysiological mechanisms, early acute thrombosis, vascular inflammation, intimal hyperplasia, and late accelerated atherosclerosis. Different methods have been proposed to inhibit or attenuate these pathological processes including modified surgical technique, topical pretreatment, external graft support, and postoperative pharmacological interventions. Once graft failure occurs, the available treatments are either surgical reintervention, angioplasty, or conservative medical management reserved for patients not eligible for either procedure.
Despite the extensive amount of research performed, the pathophysiology of saphenous vein graft is still not completely understood. Surgical and pharmacological interventions have improved early patency and different strategies for prevention seem to offer some hope in improving long-term patency.

© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Cardiac Surgery published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.