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Veins can sometimes be used to replace arteries that are diseased. The process of removing them is called harvesting.
Leg veins are frequently used for vein harvesting. For open chest procedures, like
coronary artery bypass grafting
(CABG), veins or other blood vessels in the chest are often used.
Reasons for Procedure
Diseased arteries with
have a build up of plaque that can block the flow of blood. Coronary (heart) or carotid arteries to the brain are often repaired by making a bypass. Vein grafts are most often used to bypass these blocked arteries.
A long cut in the skin will be made to expose the entire length of the vein. Every branch of the vein will be found and tied off. The vein will be removed. The skin will be closed with stitches or staples.
Two small incisions are made at either end of the vein. A special long, thin tool with a camera on the end (endoscope) is passed through one of the incisions and along the vein. The tool will separate the vein from its branches and surrounding tissue. The vein will then be removed through the second incision at the other end of the vein.
Immediately After the Harvesting
The primary surgery will take place. Your leg (or legs) will be wrapped tightly to prevent bleeding from the remaining veins.
How Long Will It Take?
Vein harvesting is usually done at the same time as the primary procedure. It does not add time to the total surgery.
How Much Will It Hurt?
Leg pain from the long incision method may be significant. Talk to your doctor about a plan to manage pain.
Average Hospital Stay
Your hospital stay will depend on your primary procedure. Vein excision will not extend your stay.
You will need to take care of your bandages and stitches. Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water. To ensure a smooth recovery, be sure to follow your doctor's
Bitondo JM, Daggett WM, Torchiana DF, et al. .Endoscopic versus open saphenous vein harvest: a comparison of postoperative wound complications.
Ann Thorac Surg. 2002 Feb;73:523-528.
Mid-Atlantic Surgical Associates website. Available at:
http://www.heartsurgeons.com. Accessed September 1, 2005.
Mini invasive technique for saphenous vein harvesting. Laparoscopy.com website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed September 1, 2005.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Am J Med.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.