✓ Experience in cardiovascular and peripheral vascular surgery with saphenous vein bypass conduits is reviewed. It is clear that meticulous technique and graft preparation are crucial to short-term and long-term patency. The risk of early thrombosis is related to damage to the graft 's native intima, graft flow, and coagulability of the patient 's blood. Attention to atraumatic harvesting techniques and perfection of anastomoses are crucial to minimizing intimal damage. Graft inflow and outflow are fundamental principles. The use of vitamin K antagonists and platelet inhibitors may improve graft survival. Subacute occlusion is related to structural alterations in the grafts themselves. These include intimal hyperplasia and medial fibrosis as the grafts become “arterialized,” valve fibrosis, aneurysmal dilatation, clamp stenosis, and suture stenosis. Long-term patency is threatened primarily by atherosclerosis in the graft itself. There is some evidence that care in vein harvesting and implantation as well as the use of anticoagulant agents affect the development of this complication.
A technique for graft preparation is presented that is based on the experience of the authors in harvesting grafts for both cerebral and coronary bypass conduits.