CHICAGO—Although there have been questions regarding the safety and durability of endoscopic vein graft harvest for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, an analysis of data of more than 200,000 patients who underwent CABG surgery found no evidence of a long-term increased risk of death with endoscopic vein graft harvesting compared to open vein-graft harvesting, according to a study in the August 1 issue of JAMA. The authors did find that the endoscopic technique was associated with a significant reduction in wound complications.
"In the mid-1990s, surgeons began using endoscopic vein-graft harvesting techniques as an alternative to large, incision-based open vein-graft harvesting to improve postoperative discomfort and incision-site complications," according to background information in the article. "The perceived advantages of endoscopic vein-graft harvesting led to wide-spread adoption of the technique, and the devices have been used in the majority of the more than 400,000 CABG surgery procedures performed at U.S. surgical centers each year." In 2009, a study that included 3,000 patients called into question the safety of the endoscopic vein-graft harvesting technique, finding that patients who received this procedure had higher 3-year mortality than those receiving open vein-graft harvesting technique.
Judson Williams, MD, MHS, of Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C., and colleagues conducted a study to assess use of the endoscopic vein-graft harvesting technique in CABG surgery and the risk of death, heart attack, and repeat revascularization. The observational study included 235,394 Medicare patients undergoing isolated CABG surgery between 2003 and 2008 at 934 surgical centers participating in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) national database. The STS records were linked to Medicare files to allow longitudinal assessment (median [midpoint] 3-year follow-up) through December 31, 2008.