During bypass surgery, a portion of the saphenous vein is removed from the leg for use on the heart. Just talk to anyone who has ever had this surgery and they'll probably tell you that the most uncomfortable part of the surgery was the leg incision. Up until recently, the vein was removed by making a series of long incisions along the inside of the leg. The wound was closed with up to three layers of suture and possibly skin staples. In patients with certain risk factors like diabetes, peripheral vascular disease or other circulation problems, poor healing and infection were common problems.
Endoscopic vein harvesting utilizes a television camera and specialized instruments to free and remove the vein through small incisions. While not everyone is a candidate for endoscopic vein harvesting, most people are. Initial results show comparable vein quality, reduced healing complications, less pain, and better cosmetic appearance utilizing this technique. The Starr-Wood Cardiac Group Physician Assistants have received special training and have been providing this service since August of 1999.