BACKGROUND: Patients with obstructive left main coronary artery disease are usually treated with coronary-artery bypass grafting (CABG). Randomized trials have suggested that drug-eluting stents may be an acceptable alternative to CABG in selected patients with left main coronary disease.
METHODS: We randomly assigned 1905 eligible patients with left main coronary artery disease of low or intermediate anatomical complexity to undergo either percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) with fluoropolymer-based cobalt-chromium everolimus-eluting stents (PCI group, 948 patients) or CABG (CABG group, 957 patients). Anatomic complexity was assessed at the sites and defined by a Synergy between Percutaneous Coronary Intervention with Taxus and Cardiac Surgery (SYNTAX) score of 32 or lower (the SYNTAX score reflects a comprehensive angiographic assessment of the coronary vasculature, with 0 as the lowest score and higher scores [no upper limit] indicating more complex coronary anatomy). The primary end point was the rate of a composite of death from any cause, stroke, or myocardial infarction at 3 years, and the trial was powered for noninferiority testing of the primary end point (noninferiority margin, 4.2 percentage points). Major secondary end points included the rate of a composite of death from any cause, stroke, or myocardial infarction at 30 days and the rate of a composite of death, stroke, myocardial infarction, or ischemia-driven revascularization at 3 years. Event rates were based on Kaplan-Meier estimates in time-to-first-event analyses.
RESULTS: At 3 years, a primary end-point event had occurred in 15.4% of the patients in the PCI group and in 14.7% of the patients in the CABG group (difference, 0.7 percentage points; upper 97.5% confidence limit, 4.0 percentage points; P=0.02 for noninferiority; hazard ratio, 1.00; 95% confidence interval, 0.79 to 1.26; P=0.98 for superiority). The secondary end-point event of death, stroke, or myocardial infarction at 30 days occurred in 4.9% of the patients in the PCI group and in 7.9% in the CABG group (P<0.001 for noninferiority, P=0.008 for superiority). The secondary end-point event of death, stroke, myocardial infarction, or ischemia-driven revascularization at 3 years occurred in 23.1% of the patients in the PCI group and in 19.1% in the CABG group (P=0.01 for noninferiority, P=0.10 for superiority).
CONCLUSIONS: In patients with left main coronary artery disease and low or intermediate SYNTAX scores by site assessment, PCI with everolimus-eluting stents was noninferior to CABG with respect to the rate of the composite end point of death, stroke, or myocardial infarction at 3 years. (Funded by Abbott Vascular; EXCEL ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01205776 .).