Coronary bypass surgery helps restore normal blood flow to the heart by using a healthy blood vessel from elsewhere in the body to divert blood around a blocked coronary artery.
Coronary bypass surgery is actually known by several different names, including:
- Coronary artery bypass (CAB)
- Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG)
- Coronary artery bypass surgery
(Source: National Institutes of Health)
Why is coronary bypass surgery performed?
Coronary bypass surgery is usually performed if one of your coronary arteries (arteries that deliver blood to the heart) has become diseased or has a blockage that cannot be cleared with angioplasty. The surgery may also be performed in certain emergency situations, such as in a patient who has had a heart attack and is not responding to other treatments.
What happens in a coronary bypass surgery?
- While you are under general anesthesia, your surgeon will first open your chest to get access to your heart, then he or she will take a bypass graft (a piece of a healthy blood vessel) from your leg, arm or chest.
- One end of the graft will be sewn to your aorta (the main artery leading out from your heart) and the other end will be attached to a point past the blockage.
- Small tubes will be placed in your chest to drain any fluid that accumulates. You may also have pacing wires attached to help your heart beat normally as you recover.
- The surgeon will close up your chest and you will be moved to a recovery room
What can I expect after coronary bypass surgery?
If there are no complications, you will probably spend about a week in the hospital. Once you go home, it is important to closely follow your surgeon's instructions, which will probably include not lifting any heavy objects (anything heavier than a gallon of milk) and not driving until your doctor says it is okay.
While you are recovering, be aware of any signs of complications, including high fever, a fast or irregular heartbeat, chest pain and shortness of breath. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
Learn about other open heart surgeries:
For more information about Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates or to make an appointment, please call us at 713-441-1100 or 888-361-4375, or contact us online.