Objective: To assess the effects of different oral antithrombotic drugs that prevent saphenous vein graft failure in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

Design: Systematic review and network meta-analysis.

Data sources: Medline, Embase, Web of Science, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library from inception to 25 January 2019. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: for selecting studies Randomised controlled trials of participants (aged ≥18) who received oral antithrombotic drugs (antiplatelets or anticoagulants) to prevent saphenous vein graft failure after coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

Main outcome measures: The primary efficacy endpoint was saphenous vein graft failure and the primary safety endpoint was major bleeding. Secondary endpoints were myocardial infarction and death.

Results: This review identified 3266 citations, and 21 articles that related to 20 randomised controlled trials were included in the network meta-analysis. These 20 trials comprised 4803 participants and investigated nine different interventions (eight active and one placebo). Moderate certainty evidence supports the use of dual antiplatelet therapy with either aspirin plus ticagrelor (odds ratio 0.50, 95% confidence interval 0.31 to 0.79, number needed to treat 10) or aspirin plus clopidogrel (0.60, 0.42 to 0.86, 19) to reduce saphenous vein graft failure when compared with aspirin monotherapy. The study found no strong evidence of differences in major bleeding, myocardial infarction, and death among different antithrombotic therapies. The possibility of intransitivity could not be ruled out; however, between-trial heterogeneity and incoherence were low in all included analyses. Sensitivity analysis using per graft data did not change the effect estimates.

Conclusions: The results of this network meta-analysis suggest an important absolute benefit of adding ticagrelor or clopidogrel to aspirin to prevent saphenous vein graft failure after coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Dual antiplatelet therapy after surgery should be tailored to the patient by balancing the safety and efficacy profile of the drug intervention against important patient outcomes.

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