CABG and PCI with drug-eluting stents for left main coronary disease have superior outcomes to medical therapy alone


Clinical question: Does coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) have superior mortality outcomes to percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) for left main coronary disease, and how do these interventions compare with medical therapy alone?

Background: Optimal therapy for left main coronary disease is a highly researched topic with CABG having been standard therapy of choice for several decades. However, most studies have not included data comparing CABG to newer drug-eluting stent (DES) generations and no studies have directly compared PCI with DES to medical therapy alone (MTA).

Study design: Meta-analysis.

Setting: Largely European acute care hospitals as well as some VA hospitals.

Synopsis: With PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines, a review of PubMed and Cochrane databases was conducted, yielding eight RCTs, including a total of 4,850 patients. Six of the RCTs compared CABG with DES, while two compared CABG with MTA. Network meta-analysis was used to compare DES with MTA. At 5 years there were no differences in all-cause mortality between CABG and DES groups (RR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.68-1.32), though both groups had lower mortality than MTA (RR, 0.21; 95% CI, 0.09-0.47 for CABG vs. MTA and RR, 0.20; 95% CI, 0.08-0.46 for DES vs MTA).

PCI did have higher risk of revascularization at 5 years (RR, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.36-2.08) and lower risk of stroke at 1 year (RR, 0.21; 95% CI, 0.07-0.63), compared with CABG, suggesting younger patients might prefer CABG to avoid revascularization, and older patients may prefer PCI to avoid postprocedural morbidity.

Bottom line: For patients with left main disease, CABG and PCI with DES appear equally effective with regards to prevention of all-cause mortality and both are superior to MTA.

Citation: Shah R, Morsy MS, Weiman DS, and Vetrovec GW. Meta-analysis comparing coronary artery bypass grafting to drug-eluting stents. Am J Cardiol. 2017;120:63-8.

Dr. Portnoy is hospitalist and instructor of medicine, Icahn School of Medicine of the Mount Sinai Health System.

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