Angioplasty Versus Bypass: Who Fares Better?

From 1988 to 1999, staff at Duke University Medical Center designed and conducted a randomized controlled clinical trial to evaluate the nonmedical outcomes for patients with coronary artery disease who received either coronary artery bypass graft surgery or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty.

Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty is a technique to treat heart disease using angioplasty in the coronary arteries to permit more blood flow into the heart.

The nonmedical outcomes examined in the study included such areas as quality of life, medical costs and functional capacity.

Key Findings

  • Most measures of quality of life improved equally for both bypass surgery and angioplasty patients.

  • While bypass surgery was initially more expensive, over time the cost advantage of angioplasty shrank to only 5 percent.

  • There were no differences between the two procedures in their impact on cognitive function or ability to work, although angioplasty patients generally returned to work sooner.