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Vein harvest ischemia: A peripheral vascular complication of coronary artery bypass grafting

Cardiovascular Surgery
Publication Date
  • Vein Harvest Ischemia
  • Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting Complication
  • Medicine


Abstract Lower-extremity ischemia can lead to impaired healing of saphenous vein excision sites in patients with significant peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Five patients who required infrainguinal revascularization for wound necrosis of the harvest site after coronary artery bypass grafting are described. The male/female ratio was 2:3 with a mean age of 67 (range 45–87) years. The most commonly associated problems were insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (80%) and congestive heart failure (60%). The saphenous vein was harvested from the thigh and leg in three patients and exclusively from the leg in the others. Manifestations of ischemia ranged from persistent ulceration to complete wound disruption threatening limb loss. Impaired healing was isolated to infragenicular wounds in all patients. Pedal pulses were not detected in any of the affected extremities. Determination of the ankle/brachial pressure indices (ABI) revealed values of < 0.5 in three affected limbs. Non-compressible vessels resulted in falsely raised ABI of > 1.0 in the remaining two limbs; however, Doppler waveform analysis in these patients demonstrated significant PVD. Aggressive wound care and antibiotic therapy were continued for mean of 9 weeks before operative intervention. Infrainguinal reconstruction included femoropopliteal (two), femorotibial (two) and popliteal-tibial bypass (one). Autologous arm and saphenous veins in addition to expanded polytetrafluoroethylene grafts were used effectively. Limb salvage and wound healing were achieved in 100% of the patients without untoward sequelae. It is concluded that unrecognized PVD in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting can lead to significant morbidity. Patients at risk may be identified with a combination of history, physical examination and non-invasive testing. In limbs with ABI < 0.5 or significantly abnormal Doppler-derived waveforms, alternate sites of vein harvesting should be sought. Nonetheless, once wound necrosis develops as a result of vascular insufficiency, this study supports lower-extremity revascularization to achieve healing and limb salvage.

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