In recent times, practice in cardiac surgery has shifted towards using endoscopic techniques to harvest the saphenous vein from the leg for use as a bypass graft. A paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in 2009 raised concerns over increased graft occlusion rates in veins harvested endoscopically. This NEJM paper has been criticized, but has nonetheless been influential in guiding practice. We have undertaken this meta-analysis to provide evidence on the clinical outcomes of endoscopic vein harvesting (EVH), so that clinicians can make an informed judgement about whether this technique, popular as it is with patients, should still be offered. We systematically reviewed the global literature and performed a meta-analysis of clinical outcomes after endoscopic and open vein harvesting. In all outcomes, endoscopic harvesting appears to be equal, if not superior, to open harvesting. The suspicion of higher rates of vein graft occlusion was not borne out by randomized studies. When considering evidence from only randomized studies, there is no statistical difference in vein graft stenosis or occlusion between open and endoscopically harvested veins. In conclusion, EVH reduces pain and leg wound complications. At a median follow-up of 2.6 years, we found no significant difference in mortality, myocardial infarction, repeat revascularization, angina recurrence, vein graft stenosis or occlusion. Therefore, the authors support the ongoing use of endoscopic harvesting techniques.
- Coronary Artery Bypass
- Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
- Tissue and Organ Harvesting
- Treatment Outcome