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Vein Excision

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


Vein Excision

(Vein Harvest)


Veins are sometimes used to replace arteries that are not healthy. Removing them is called harvesting.

Leg veins are often 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.

Reasons for Procedure

Vein grafts are most often used to channel blood flow around blocked arteries.

Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts.

Nucleus imagehttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=77337733si55551780.jpgsi55551780.jpgNULLjpgsi55551780.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551780.jpgNULL60NULL2008-12-102523787733_102958Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Injury to nearby structures

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Chronic health issues such as diabetes or obesity

What to Expect

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
  • Redness, swelling, excess bleeding, or any discharge from the incision
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you were given
  • Changes in the color of your leg—or your leg feels cold, numb, or tingly
  • Problems breathing or chest pain
  • Lightheadedness or weakness
  • Calves that are red, swollen, or warm to the touch

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and if you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Whether you need a ride to and from surgery




  • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/coronary-artery-bypass-graft-cabg-surgery.
  • How it's performed---coronary artery bypass graft. NHS website. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronary-artery-bypass-graft-cabg/what-happens.
  • Zhang, S.Z., Wang, G.X., et al. The clinical application of microincision vein harvesting of the great saphenous vein in coronary artery bypass grafting. BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2020; 20 (1): 297.


  • Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.