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Endoscopic Vessel Harvesting

Many patients are surprised to learn that a bypass operation may actually include two surgical procedures.

  • Primarily, the bypass surgery involves using a healthy blood vessel to "bypass" a damaged or blocked artery in the heart.
  • The second procedure is the actual removal of a healthy blood vessel, typically the saphenous vein in the patient's leg, which will be used to construct the bypass.

Recent advances in technology have made it possible to perform this second procedure in a new way, through endoscopic small incision  surgery. Rather than make a large incision in the leg of a patient, surgeons now make one to three small, one inch long incisions in the patient's leg. Because this new  procedure results in less muscle and tissue damage when harvesting the vein graft, this procedure may eliminate many of the complications associated with the former technique. This may offer significant benefits to you.

How is Endoscopic Vein Harvesting Performed?

An endoscope, a special instrument used to view the inside of a hollow area, is connected to a video camera and inserted through one to three small incisions in the leg.  The endoscope is used to view the saphenous vein inside the leg and allows the surgeon to remove the vein with minimal stress to the leg. 

Patient Benefits from Endoscopic Vessel Harvesting

This new procedure generally results in less muscle and tissue damage and therefore, may reduce the surgical trauma to the patient and decreases the incidence of wound healing complications.  In other words:

  • you should experience less tissue scarring
  • your leg wounds should be less painful
  • you will be able to concentrate on your cardiac rehabilitation!

In most cases, the small incision approach can be used successfully. However, every surgical patient is unique, and your surgical team will recommend the best procedure for you.

It is important to remember that the goal of any bypass surgery is to increase coronary artery blood flow.  Increased blood flow may:

  • Provide relief of angina (pain or tightness in the chest)
  • Improve the pumping ability of the heart muscle
  • Reduce the risk of heart attacks 

Most importantly, the quality of your life should improve.

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