OBJECTIVES: Minimally invasive saphenous vein harvesting is advocated to reduce wound morbidity. Our early experience with minimally invasive techniques, however, suggested that increased tissue traction and trauma might follow. We aimed to test the hypothesis that minimally invasive harvesting reduces post-operative pain and inflammation. A secondary objective was to determine if minimally invasive harvesting could be performed efficiently. METHODS: Forty patients were prospectively randomised into minimally invasive harvesting (Minimal, n=22) and traditional open harvesting (Open, n=18). A modified bridging technique was used for minimally invasive harvesting (SaphLITE, Genzyme Surgical Products, Cambridge, MA, USA). One surgeon performed all operations. Primary end points were signs of impaired healing (a composite score) and pain (visual analogue score). Secondary end-points (operation variables) were also collected. Continuous variables were analysed by Student's t-test and categorical variables were analysed by Mann-Whitney U-test. RESULTS: There were no significant demographic differences between the two groups (height, weight, albumin, diabetes, and peripheral vascular disease). In the early post-operative period, Minimal group had significantly less leg wound pain (P=0.04) and wound sepsis scores (P=0.01). Sternal pain was the same in both groups. After 6 weeks, wound scores and leg pain scores were not significantly different. There were no significant differences in rate of harvest (1.1 cm/min in each group). In Minimal group, 4 cm veins were harvested for each 1 cm skin incision compared with 1 cm in Open group (P<0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Minimally invasive saphenous vein harvesting significantly reduces early post-operative leg pain and wound sepsis. Our study demonstrates that minimally invasive harvesting can be performed at a satisfactory speed and should be considered to help reduce early post-operative morbidity.


Journal article


Eur J Cardiothorac Surg

Publication Date





381 - 386


Coronary Artery Bypass, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures, Pain, Postoperative, Prospective Studies, Saphenous Vein, Surgical Instruments, Surgical Wound Infection, Tissue and Organ Harvesting, Wound Healing