When angioplasty and other minimally invasive methods of clearing blocked arteries are no longer an option, or if multiple vessels are blocked, your physician may recommend Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (CABG pronounced like cabbage) as the best course for treatment.
How Coronary Artery Bypass (CABG) Surgery Is Performed
During coronary artery bypass graft surgery, a blood vessel is removed or redirected from one area of the body and placed around the area or areas of narrowing to "bypass" the blockages and restore blood flow to the heart muscle. This vessel is called a graft. The new blood vessel is grafted to the aorta (the large artery at the top of the heart) and to the coronary artery beneath the blocked area. The new vessel bypasses around the clogged coronary arteries. Blood can then flow freely to the heart.
Depending on the type of coronary bypass surgery, the surgeon may connect the heart to a cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), a heart-lung machine, which assumes the function of the heart and lungs. To keep the heart still, the heart is stopped or "arrested" so the surgeon can perform the precise surgery on the heart without it beating. The heart-lung machine allows blood to continue circulating in the body while the surgery is performed.
Benefits of Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)
It is common for three or four coronary arteries to be bypassed during surgery. A coronary artery bypass can be performed with traditional surgery or with minimally invasive surgery. Your surgeon will review your diagnostic tests prior to your surgery to see if you are a candidate for minimally invasive bypass surgery.
Innovative advancements in CABG surgical techniques and equipment have allowed CABG surgery to be performed without a heart-lung machine. Beating heart CABG or off-pump CABG surgery, minimally invasive direct CAB (MIDCAB) surgery and robotic assisted TECAB surgery can be performed while the heart continues to beat.
Following the surgery, cardiac rehabilitation is provided in stages to help reduce risk for future heart problems and to make the recovery process quick.