Using cutting-edge methods to divert blood flow around a diseased portion of artery
Expert Heart & Vascular Care
Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our heart or vascular specialists.
Your doctor may recommend coronary artery bypass surgery if narrowing or blockages in one or more of your coronary arteries (coronary artery disease) reduce the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. This surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG, pronounced “cabbage”) restores normal blood flow by using a healthy blood vessel taken from your leg, arm or chest to create a detour around the problem area. It’s not uncommon to bypass two, three or more coronary arteries during surgery. You may have heard this called double or triple bypass.
Coronary artery bypass surgery is one of the most common heart surgeries our cardiac surgeons perform. We perform nearly half of these procedures as off-pump bypass surgery, also known as beating-heart bypass. With this method, we use special tools to stabilize a portion of the heart to allow it to keep beating while we bypass the blocked artery.
Traditionally, this surgery is performed with the assistance of a cardiopulmonary bypass machine, which temporarily takes over the function of the heart and lungs. This is known as on-pump surgery. Patients who have off-pump bypass surgery recover faster and have reduced risk for complications such as stroke, the need for blood transfusions and kidney and lung problems.
You and your doctor will discuss your unique situation to determine which form of bypass surgery will be best to return you to your normal daily activities, relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain and lower your risk for future heart problems.
What to expect during CABG surgery
You will be given general anesthesia to put you to sleep during the surgery. Your surgeon will first remove the blood vessel to be used as a graft. Your surgeon will then make an incision in your chest to access your heart and coronary arteries. If your surgery is being performed on-pump, your heart will be stopped, and the heart-lung machine will take over circulating blood through the body. A breathing tube attached to a ventilator will breathe for you.
One end of the graft will be attached just below the diseased portion of the artery, while the other end will be attached to a tiny opening made in the aorta. This will divert the flow of blood around the blockage.
Before the chest incision is closed, you may be given a temporary pacemaker in case you experience an abnormal heart rhythm after surgery. The surgery will last three to five hours, depending on how many arteries are being bypassed. You’ll likely need to stay in the hospital for a week, and recovery can take up to 12 weeks. Taking part in cardiac rehabilitation can help you recover more safely and effectively.
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