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Vein Excision
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Vein Excision Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


Veins can sometimes be used to replace arteries that are diseased. The process of removing them is called harvesting.

Leg veins are frequently used for vein harvesting. For open chest procedures, like coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), veins or other blood vessels in the chest are often used.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The preparation you will need will be determined by the primary procedure. In most cases, it will be a major cardiac or vascular surgery for which you will be hospitalized and evaluated thoroughly.

Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:

  • Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Statins or cholesterol medicine
  • Certain medicines for diabetes

You will not be able to eat or drink for 8 hours prior to the procedure.


You will be given general anesthesia . It will make you sleep.

Description of Procedure

Traditional Technique

A long cut in the skin will be made to expose the entire length of the vein. Every branch of the vein will be found and tied off. The vein will be removed. The skin will be closed with stitches or staples.

Endoscopic Technique

Two small incisions are made at either end of the vein. A special long, thin tool with a camera on the end (endoscope) is passed through one of the incisions and along the vein. The tool will separate the vein from its branches and surrounding tissue. The vein will then be removed through the second incision at the other end of the vein.

Immediately After the Harvesting

The primary surgery will take place. Your leg (or legs) will be wrapped tightly to prevent bleeding from the remaining veins.

How Long Will It Take?

Vein harvesting is usually done at the same time as the primary procedure. It does not add time to the total surgery.

How Much Will It Hurt?

Leg pain from the long incision method may be significant. Talk to your doctor about a plan to manage pain.

Average Hospital Stay

Your hospital stay will depend on your primary procedure. Vein excision will not extend your stay.

Postoperative Care

You will need to take care of your bandages and stitches. To ensure a smooth recovery, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.



Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Southern California

The Cardiothoracic Surgery Network


Mount Sinai Hospital, Canada

University of Ottawa Heart Institute


Bitondo JM, Daggett WM, Torchiana DF, et al. .Endoscopic versus open saphenous vein harvest: a comparison of postoperative wound complications. Ann Thorac Surg. 2002 Feb;73:523-528.

Mid-Atlantic Surgical Associates website. Available at: . Accessed September 1, 2005.

Mini invasive technique for saphenous vein harvesting. website. Available at: . Accessed September 1, 2005.



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