Neurologic symptoms after great saphenous vein harvesting for coronary artery bypass grafting

A M Budillon, G Zoffoli, F Nicolini, A Agostinelli, S Congiu, C Beghi, T Gherli
Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery 2003, 44 (6): 707-11

AIM: Incidence evaluation of cutaneous neurologic symptoms in the lower limbs as a new event after great saphenous vein (GSV) harvesting for coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Each day we harvest the GSV for CABG. Some authors have reported the onset of saphenous neuralgia complex as a new event of which we would evaluate the incidence.

METHODS: From January 2000, until June 2001, 2,091 patients underwent cardiac surgery; 1,326 underwent CABG, 1,227 of them using the GSV as a conduit for almost one graft. These patients were prospectively reviewed; all were preoperatively examined to determine the presence of normal sensation in the lower limbs and elude the presence of saphenous neuralgia. Then, we evaluated sensations in the lower limbs at 5 days, 8 weeks, and 5 months after operation to determine the new onset of saphenous neuralgia. The areas of sensory loss were recorded each time and reported in a diagram to obtain 3 areas.

RESULTS: Hyperaesthesia and pain were noted in a few patients, especially at 5 days and 8 weeks control, but at 5 months none of them complained of real pain.

CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that saphenous neuralgia after harvesting the GSV for CABG is a rare consequence. The main symptom is anaesthesia but its duration is generally no longer than 2 months. Hyperaesthesia and pain, for the early onset and the early disappearance, are considered as a normal consequence of surgical procedure.

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