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Minimally Invasive Vein Harvesting

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When a patient undergoes coronary artery bypass surgery or any other arterial grafting procedure, the patient's own veins are the best replacement. Typically a graft with a patient’s own veins will be more durable and will better resist infection over an artificial artery. Veins from a patient’s own body are “harvested,” or surgically excised, by a vascular surgeon immediately prior to an arterial grafting surgery. The vascular surgeons at Cardiac Surgery Associates of Tampa are skilled in cutting-edge techniques for the surgical collection and care of veins and arteries.

The three most effective veins to harvest for arterial grafting are the saphenous vein in the leg, the radial artery in the forearm and the mammary artery in the chest. These veins either have exact counter parts or supporting vascular networks that can maintain flow to the area. Historically these veins were harvested using large incisions across the length of the vein. To harvest the saphenous vein, for example, this incision ran from the groin to the ankle. New, minimally invasive vein harvesting, also called endoscopic vein harvesting, techniques allow for surgeons to excise these veins using only one to three incisions at a maximum length of 2 centimeters. An endoscope is used to view the vein via a small incision in the leg, arm or chest. The vascular surgeon then cuts and seals any branching veins from the vein to be harvested before removing the vein for grafting.

Minimally invasive vein harvesting allows the surrounding tissue to remain relatively unharmed, allowing patients to heal faster. This technique can also lower risk of infection at the harvest site, reduce postoperative swelling and leaves minimal scars as compared to traditional, open vein harvesting. Endoscopic vein harvesting does not impact the functionality of the vein after grafting and increases patient mobility sooner after surgery, sometimes aiding cardiac rehabilitation.

If you have questions about minimally invasive vein harvesting procedures, please call our office at 813.910.0027 to request a consultation with one of the vascular surgeons at Cardiac Surgery Associates of Tampa or request an appointment online.