Although coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) remains the treatment of choice for certain types of coronary artery disease (CAD), percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)—particularly coronary angioplasty with stenting—has become the most popular nonmedical treatment approach to CAD. Some have speculated that, with the advent of drug-eluting stents (DESs), PCI will replace CABG entirely. However, the complete disappearance of CABG is both unlikely and unwarranted, for several reasons. Published randomized trials of CABG, PCI, and medical approaches to CAD compared only highly selected subgroups of patients because of strict exclusion criteria that often favored the PCI cohorts. Therefore, their results do not constitute sufficient evidence for the superiority of PCI over CABG in all CAD patients requiring revascularization. As PCI indications broaden to include more complex lesions and more high-risk patients, outcomes will not remain as favorable. In addition, although PCI is less invasive than surgery, CABG offers more complete revascularization and better freedom from repeat revascularization. Furthermore, no long-term patency data on DESs yet exist, whereas excellent 10- and 20-year patency rates have been reported for the left internal mammary artery-to-left anterior descending artery graft used in most CABG procedures. While PCI has been changing, CABG has not been stagnant; recently, advances in many aspects of the CABG procedure have improved short- and long-term outcomes in CABG patients. Both CABG and PCI technologies will continue to advance, not necessarily exclusive of one another, but no data yet exist to suggest that DESs will render CABG obsolete any time soon.
Key words: Angioplasty, transluminal, percutaneous coronary; coronary artery bypass; stents