Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is surgery to treat coronary artery disease. The surgery helps blood make a detour, or bypass, around one or more narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are the blood vessels that bring blood to the heart. This surgery is also called coronary artery bypass or bypass surgery.
Your doctor will create a bypass using a healthy piece of blood vessel from another part of your body. Then he or she will attach, or graft, the healthy blood vessel to the narrowed or blocked artery. The new blood vessel bypasses the diseased artery to increase blood flow to the heart muscle.
The doctor will make a cut in the skin over your breastbone (sternum). This cut is called an incision. Then the doctor will cut through your sternum to reach your heart and coronary arteries. The doctor may connect you to a heart-lung bypass machine. It adds oxygen to the blood and moves the blood through the body. This machine will allow the doctor to stop your heartbeat while he or she works on your arteries. The doctor will use blood vessels from your chest, arm, or leg to bypass the narrowed or blocked parts of your arteries. When the blood vessels are in place, the doctor will restart your heart. In some cases, the doctor may be able to do the operation without using a heart-lung machine. This is called "off-pump" surgery.
The doctor will use wire to put your sternum back together, and stitches or staples to close the incisions in the skin over your sternum and where your healthy blood vessel was taken. The wire will stay in your chest. The incisions will leave scars that may become less noticeable with time.
You will stay in the hospital for 3 to 8 days after surgery. You will probably be able to do many of your usual activities after 4 to 6 weeks. But for 2 to 3 months you will not be able to lift heavy objects or do activities that strain your chest or upper arm muscles. At first you may notice that you get tired easily and need to rest often. It may take 1 to 2 months before your energy is back to normal.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Having surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect and how to safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: December 6, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & David C. Stuesse, MD - Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery
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