Coronary artery disease represents a leading cause of death worldwide, to which the coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is the main method of treatment in advanced multiple vessel disease. The use of the internal mammary artery (IMA) as a graft insures an improved long-term survival, but impairment of chest wall perfusion often leads to surgical site infection and increased morbidity and mortality. Infrared thermography (IRT) has established itself in the past decades as a non-invasive diagnostic technique. The applications vary from veterinary to human medicine and from head to toe. In this study we used IRT in 42 patients receiving CABG to determine the changes in skin surface temperature preoperatively, two hours, 24 h and 6 days after surgery. The results showed a significant and independent drop of surface temperature 2 h after surgery on the whole surface of the chest wall, as well as a further reduction on the left side after harvesting the IMA. The temperature returned to normal after 24 h and remained so after 6 days. The study has shown that IRT is sufficiently sensitive to demonstrate the known, subtle reduction in chest wall perfusion associated with IMA harvesting.
Keywords: Chest wall perfusion; Coronary artery bypass; Infrared thermography; Internal mammary artery; Tissue perfusion.