Many patients are surprised to learn that a bypass operation includes two surgical procedures; in addition to the bypass operation, where the surgeon uses a healthy blood vessel to bypass the blocked arteries of the heart, a second procedure is necessary to remove (or harvest) a healthy blood vessel, usually from the leg, to construct the bypass grafts. Recent advances in medical technology make it possible to perform the second procedure in a different way, through very small incisions. This technology is now available at Holy Cross Hospital.
Traditionally, the vein is removed from the leg through a long incision that may stretch from ankle to groin. Often, patients who have this method of vein removal experience more postoperative pain from the leg incision than from the chest incision. Rehabilitation may be delayed because the longer leg incision may make it more difficult for the patient to stand or walk after surgery.
"Endoscopic vessel harvesting has tremendous potential benefit for patients by reducing leg wound complications and offering a much better cosmetic result," said Imad Tabry, MD, FACS, Cardiovascular Surgeon, Holy Cross Hospital. We are pleased to be able to offer this less-invasive option to our patients.
To date, more than 150,000 patients have undergone endoscopic harvesting of the saphenous leg vein. Patients who undergo endoscopic vessel harvesting tend to recover more quickly than those who undergo traditional vessel harvesting.
Additionally, they may be at a lower risk for developing post-operative infections due to the smaller incision. The radial artery is harvested in approximately 10% of coronary artery bypass surgeries each year.