What is Vessel Harvesting?

If you are suffering from coronary artery disease, your physician may have scheduled you for coronary artery bypass surgery, where a “bypass” is created around blocked arteries to reroute blood and restore and improve blood flow and oxygen to the heart.

To create the bypass, your surgeon will remove or "harvest" healthy blood vessels from another part of the body, often from your chest, leg or arm. This vessel becomes a graft, with one end attaching to surface of the heart, and the other end to the aorta below the blocked area, creating the bypass for new blood flow.

The saphenous vein - the vein that runs along the inside of your leg from your groin to your ankle - has a thick wall and is well suited for use on your heart.

What is EVH?

Traditionally, to remove the saphenous vein required a long incision the length of your leg. Now, however, your surgeon can remove this vein via a technique called Endoscopic Vessel Harvesting (EVH).

Rather than making one large incision, surgeons make a series of smaller incisions along the leg. Then an endoscope -- a special instrument used to view the inside of a hollow area -- is connected to a camera and used to view and remove the vein.

Because the incisions are much smaller, muscle and tissue damage is minimized. As a result, complications are minimized as well. Other benefits can include:

  • Reduced risk of infection
  • Less tissue scarring
  • Less pain
  • Quicker recovery

Is EVH right for me?

In most cases, the small incision EVH approach can be used successfully. But because every patient is unique, ask your physician if EVH is the best approach for you.