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Heart Surg Forum. 2003;6(4):258-63.

Review of efforts to decrease costly leg wound complications in the medicare population following coronary revascularization.

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East Tennessee Cardiovascular Surgery Group, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA.



Current trends show that patients referred for coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) are significantly older, sicker, and at higher risk for complications than ever before. Eliminating leg wound complications would significantly benefit these patients and reduce the consumption of health care time and dollars. Endoscopic vein harvesting (EVH) decreases the risk of wound complications in patients following CABG and may decrease costly long-term wound-related problems.


In this retrospective study, the cases of 1909 Medicare patients who had undergone EVH or open vein harvesting (OVH) for CABG were reviewed. The risk factors of these patients were examined and compared with those of 1485 non- Medicare patients. Readmissions, home health care costs, and office lengths of service were reviewed and analyzed.


The results of univariate analyses of the Medicare versus non-Medicare populations indicated significant differences for peripheral vascular disease (25.4% versus 17.2%; P <.0001), renal failure (6.0% versus 2.8%; P <.0001), hypertension (75.4% versus 71.5%; P =.011), female sex (31.1% versus 22.4%; P <.0001), mean age (69.8 years versus 57.1 years; P <.0001), and mortality risk (4.6% versus 2.2%; P <.0001). The wound rates in the Medicare group were 1.1% for EVH (n = 741) versus 2.8% for OVH (n = 1168), and this difference was significant (P =.0163) despite a higher frequency of morbid obesity in the EVH population (P <.0001). No significant differences were found in readmission frequency, home health care costs, or office length of service.


EVH benefits Medicare patients. Although this study is the largest to date to use disposable instruments, there is a lack of statistical power in the analysis of cost comparisons due to the small sample size of wound complications. However, there appears to be a general trend toward a lower treatment cost per patient and less resource use with EVH.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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