What is a saphenous vein "cut down"?

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Originally posted by Minimalist M
What is a saphenous vein "cut down"?

I may be wrong in this answer and someone please feel free to correct me. However, if I am not mistaken, a "cut-down" refers to surgically dissecting down to the vessel in order to access it (i.e. cannulation, etc...) as opposed to accessing via percutaneous technique. Saphenous "cut-down" would thus be a "cut-down" to access the saphenous vein. Unfortunately, I never had to do a cut down in surgery internship. I did however see numerous surgical cut-down type approaches to accessing groin vessels for Circ-Arrest bypass in aortic arch repairs during med-school.


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Feb 13, 1999
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Skylizard, you are correct in your answer. The saphenous cut down is usually done just anterior to the medial malleolus. A cutdown is usually done when you are unable to get an IV in by a percutaneous approach. Cut downs are done much less frequently now because central lines are much easier. I've only done them on pediatric patients on my peds surg rotation.


it's a hard life...
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Aug 19, 2002
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I've done them on trauma patients needing access who presented as hopelessly brain injured and likely to go to donation. It was a good opportunity to practice for me, and also decreased the (slight) risk of lung injury, bleeding etc associated with CVC placement.

It's a good trick to have up your sleeve.