Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) is very common—more than 400,000 of these surgeries are performed in the US every year. CABG saves lives and goes by many names: coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), coronary artery bypass or bypass surgery. CABG surgery is advised for patients with significant narrowing and blockage of the heart arteries or coronary artery disease. It creates new routes that allow sufficient blood flow to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the heart. While stent placement is being used more commonly as technology advances, CABG may be a better alternative for you, especially when blockages are severe or multiple, or if certain medical conditions such as diabetes are present. Your cardiologist or cardiothoracic surgeon will discuss your options with you. Single, double, triple or quadruple refers to the number of blocked arteries to be bypassed.
Technical expertise combined with compassionate care
At Harrison, we perform up to 150 CABG surgeries every year with great outcomes. Our board-certified cardiologists and cardiac surgeons collaborate in a program that combines technical excellence and experience with compassionate care. From diagnosis to surgery, from recovery to lifestyle changes, everything we do is designed to give you a full and active life after surgery.
Performed by an experienced cardiothoracic surgeon, the procedure requires an incision into the sternum (breastbone) to access the heart. Unlike other kinds of heart surgery, the chambers of the heart are not opened during bypass surgery.
Surgery involves using a section of vein or artery taken from the leg, chest or other body area to bypass—literally create a new pathway around—the blocked or diseased part of the affected artery. It is then grafted: one end is attached to the ascending aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body, and the other end is attached to a coronary artery below the blockage to reestablish healthy blood flow.
For most bypass surgeries, a heart-lung machine is used to do the work of the heart while surgery is performed (“on pump”). New technologies allow surgeons to stabilize the specific part of the heart being treated, while the rest of the heart muscle continues to function (“off pump”). This technique is used when patients have complications, such as severe vascular disease, that may put them at risk when using the heart-lung machine.
Life after surgery
Recovery requires a hospital stay, usually with a few days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and up to a week in the hospital. Getting back to an office job can happen in four to six weeks, while those with more physically demanding jobs may need a longer healing period.
To prevent another bypass surgery, it’s important to take the steps your doctor recommends to ensure better heart health such as taking prescribed medication, eating a diet lower in fat and cholesterol, losing weight, smoking cessation, and lessening stress or simply learning new ways to cope.
“Our experienced cardiologists and cardiac surgeons collaborative approach offers the optimal and safest method for durable, successful outcomes.”
- R. Christopher King, MD
Board Certified Cardiothoracic Surgeon