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Am J Surg. 2002 May;183(5):576-9.

Endoscopic greater saphenous vein harvesting reduces the morbidity of coronary artery bypass surgery.

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Department of Surgery, Section of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Virginia Mason Medical Center, 1201 Terry Ave., Seattle, WA 98101, USA.



Most coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) operations still involve the use of greater saphenous vein (GSV) for one or more grafts, even with the increasing use of arterial conduits for coronary revascularization. Wound complications from GSV harvesting are common, and sometimes severe. In order to reduce the morbidity of this procedure, we adopted a technique of endoscopic vein harvesting (EVH). EVH allows nearly complete harvest of the GSV, with excellent visualization, through minimal incisions. At our institution, a physician's assistant routinely performs EVH, usually while a cardiothoracic surgeon harvests an arterial conduit. In 1997, all GSV harvesting was performed by open technique. During a transition period in 1998 and 1999 we used several different endoscopic techniques. By the beginning of 2000, our technique of EVH was standardized and used routinely.


To determine whether EVH reduced the morbidity associated with conventional open vein harvesting (OVH), we reviewed the charts of all patients having primary coronary artery bypass operations utilizing GSV during the years 1997 and 2000.


The two groups were comparable in risk factors for leg incision complications. The year 2000 EVH group had a marked reduction in the number of wound complications compared with the year 1997 OVH group (7.1% versus 26.1%, P < 0.00001). There were no significant differences between the two groups in total operative time (OVH 224 minutes, EVH 223 minutes, number of distal coronary anastomoses (OVH 3.38 +/- 0.90, EVH 3.38 +/- 0.94), or the rate of clinically apparent early graft failure. There was a significant increase in the use of sequential grafting techniques in the 2000 group (OVH 21.9%, EVH 43.6%, P < 0.00001).


EVH reduced the morbidity associated with GSV harvesting. EVH was associated with an increased use of sequential coronary grafting techniques. EVH does not prolong operative time when performed by experienced personnel. We believe EVH should become the standard of care.

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