Heart bypass surgery creates a new route, called a bypass, for blood and oxygen to reach your heart.
Before your surgery you will receive general anesthesia. You will be deep asleep (unconscious) and pain-free during surgery.
Once you are unconscious, the heart surgeon will make a 10-inch surgical cut (incision) in the middle of your chest. Your breastbone will be separated to create an opening so your surgeon can see your heart and aorta, the main blood vessel leading from the heart to the rest of your body.
Most people who have coronary bypass surgery are connected to a heart-lung bypass machine, or bypass pump.
A newer type of bypass surgery does not use the heart-lung bypass machine. The bypass is created while your heart is still beating. This is called off-pump coronary artery bypass, or OPCAB. This procedure may be used if you could have problems while on the heart-lung machine.
During bypass surgery, the doctor takes a vein or artery from another part of your body and uses it to create a detour (or graft) around the blocked area in your artery.
After the graft has been created, your breastbone will be closed with wire. This wire remains inside you. The surgical cut will be closed with stitches.
This surgery can take 4 to 6 hours. After the surgery, you will be taken to the intensive care unit.
Your doctor may recommend this procedure if you have a blockage in one or more of your coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are the small blood vessels that supply your heart with oxygen and nutrients that are carried in your blood.
When one or more of the coronary arteries becomes partly or totally blocked, your heart does not get enough blood. This is called ischemic heart disease, or coronary artery disease (CAD). It can cause chest pain (angina).
Coronary artery bypass surgery can be used to treat coronary artery disease. Your doctor may have first tried to treat you with medicines. You may have also tried cardiac rehabilitation or angioplasty with stenting.
CAD varies a lot from person to person, so the way it is diagnosed and treated will also vary. Heart bypass surgery is just one treatment. It is not right for everyone.
Risks for any surgery include:
Possible risks from having coronary bypass surgery include:
Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the days before your surgery:
The day before your surgery:
On the day of the surgery:
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
After the operation, you will spend 5 to 7 days in the hospital. You will spend the first few hours in an intensive care unit (ICU). You will be moved to a regular or transitional care room usually within 24 hours.
Two to three tubes will be in your chest to drain fluid from around your heart. They are usually removed 1 to 3 days after surgery.
You may have a catheter (flexible tube) in your bladder to drain urine. You may also have intravenous (IV) lines for fluids. You will be attached to machines that monitor your pulse, temperature, and breathing. Nurses will watch your monitors constantly.
You will be encouraged to resume some activity and may begin a cardiac rehabilitation program within a few days.
It takes 4 to 6 weeks to start feeling better after surgery.
Recovery from surgery takes time, and you may not see the full benefits of your surgery for 3 to 6 months. In most people who have heart bypass surgery, the grafts remain open and work well for many years.
This surgery does not prevent the coronary artery blockage from coming back. You can do many things to slow it down. Not smoking, eating a heart-healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and treating high blood pressure, high blood sugar (if you have diabetes), and high cholesterol will all help and are very important.
You may be more likely to have problems with your blood vessels if you have kidney disease or some other medical problems.
Off-pump coronary artery bypass; OPCAB; Beating heart surgery; Bypass surgery - heart; CABG; Coronary artery bypass graft; Coronary artery bypass surgery; Coronary bypass surgery