Minimal incision techniques for vein harvest may lessen wound complications after lower extremity revascularization, but long-term patency and limb salvage data are limited.Methods
This retrospective case-control study used a computerized vascular registry set in an academic vascular surgical practice. All patients undergoing lower extremity revascularization using autogenous reversed great saphenous vein by a single vascular surgeon in a 10-year period were reviewed. Harvest of great saphenous vein via long single incision (SI) in 133 patients was compared with minimal incisions with endoscopy (MIE) in 85, or MI without endoscopy in 106. The main outcome measures were primary and secondary graft patency by Kaplan-Meier life-table analysis and cumulative sum failure (CUSUM). Secondary outcomes of interest were limb salvage and wound complications.Results
No differences were observed between MIE, MI, and SI patients for demographic data, risk factors, or primary indications, including claudication, rest pain, ischemic ulcer, and gangrene. Endoscopic vein harvest patients were significantly more likely than MI or SI to be women and more likely to use tobacco. Primary patency at 5 years was better after SI vein harvest (59%) than with either MI (33%, P = .004) or MIE (44%, P = .045) techniques, although both MI groups had a higher proportion of bypass grafts to the popliteal artery. Similarly, cumulative secondary patency was better after SI (66%) than with MI (47%, P = .045), but not MIE (58%, P = .45). Differences in limb salvage at 5 years in SI (73%) were not statistically superior to either MI (59%, P = .24) or MIE (58%, P = .13). No learning curve for MI or MIE vein grafts was evident by CUSUM for primary patency at 12 months. No differences in wound complication rates were observed for SI (9%), MI (10%), or MIE (6%) grafts (P = .54).Conclusions
Graft patency and limb salvage deteriorated during the time when MI or MIE techniques of great saphenous vein harvest were adopted. This observation raises concern about the advisability of limiting the extent of the incision at the potential cost of compromised outcomes without an obvious advantage in limiting wound complications.