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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2009 Jul;91(5):426-9. doi: 10.1308/003588409X392171. Epub 2009 Apr 30.

A prospective audit of endoscopic vein harvesting for coronary artery bypass surgery.

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  • 1Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Lancashire Cardiac Centre, Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Blackpool, UK.



The objectives of this study were to: (i) assess the feasibility of minimally invasive endoscopic harvesting of the long saphenous vein or radial artery for use as conduit during coronary artery bypass surgery in the NHS setting; and (ii) investigate the results of endoscopic vein harvesting with regards to postoperative complications, ability to mobilise, and patient satisfaction.


In this prospective audit, 25 consecutive patients, aged 52-90 years, undergoing either coronary artery bypass grafting alone or together with valve surgery or atrial fibrillation ablation were studied. All data were entered in purpose-designed proforma. Pre-operative risk factors including increasing age, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, obesity, renal impairment, tobacco consumption and steroid use were documented. Time taken for harvest and conversion to traditional open vein harvest, quality of harvested vein in terms of number of repairs and vein damage were recorded. Postoperatively, we recorded harvest site wound complications, number of days to mobilise and total hospital stay. Pain score and patient satisfaction were also assessed.


There was one death due to myocardial infarction; another patient had postoperative cerebrovascular accident. A total of 43 lengths of grafts were harvested, 41 were long saphenous vein and two radial artery. Vein harvest time reduced significantly from a maximum of 94 min to 34 min for two lengths of long saphenous vein. Three patients required conversion from endoscopic vein harvesting to open vein harvest. The only postoperative complication directly related to endoscopic harvesting was bruising along the tunnel created by the passage of the instruments. None of the patients had any wound complication; none required antibiotics or wound debridement. Mean time to mobilise was 3.4 days. All patients who underwent successful endoscopic vein harvesting expressed satisfaction with regards to postoperative pain and cosmetic result.


Competence and ability to harvest conduit in an acceptable time frame are obtainable after a relatively low number of cases. The procedure is associated with a low number of postoperative complications and very high patient satisfaction.

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