Traditionally these veins are removed from both legs from the ankle to the upper thigh. Unfortunately not all of this vein may be useful due to disease but this was not found out until the veins were removed.
At the Lancashire Cardiac Centre we are trialling a pioneering technique known as endovascular vein harvesting. To do this surgeons remove the vein through a tiny incision near the patient’s knee. An endoscopic system with a tiny video camera is inserted in the small incision. The tiny video camera projects the image of the inside of the patient’s leg onto a TV monitor – helping the surgical team to remove the vein with minimal trauma to the leg.
After the surgeon has separated the vein from surrounding tissue, the system is used to pull the vein out. The surgeon then uses the vein as a graft, sewn in place to bypass the blocked artery. Endovascular Vein Harvesting promises benefits for patients by reducing pain, the possibility of infection and providing a better cosmetic outcome.