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 blocked coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are the blood vessels that
bring blood to the heart. The surgery is also called coronary artery bypass or
Your doctor will make a bypass using a piece of blood vessel from another part of your body. Your doctor will attach,
or graft, this blood vessel above and below the blocked section of your
common way to do bypass surgery is through a large cut, called an incision, in
the chest. This is called open-chest surgery.
Your doctor will make the cut in the skin over your breastbone (sternum). Then the doctor will cut
through your sternum to reach your heart and coronary arteries.
The doctor will
connect you to a heart-lung bypass machine. This machine will let the
doctor stop your heart while he or she works. The
doctor will use a blood vessel from your chest, arm, or leg to bypass the
blocked arteries. When the blood vessels are in place, the doctor will restart
The doctor will use wire to put your sternum back
together. The wire will stay in your chest. You will get stitches or staples to close the cuts in
your skin. The cuts will leave scars
that may fade in time.
Some hospitals offer less
invasive bypass surgery. This includes surgery that is done without stopping the
heart. The surgery also may be done through smaller cuts in the
You will stay in the hospital for at least 3 to 8 days
after the surgery. You will feel tired and sore for the first few weeks. Your
chest, shoulders, and upper back may ache. You may have some swelling or pain
in the area where the healthy vein was taken. These symptoms usually get better
in 4 to 6 weeks. It may take 1 to 2 months before your energy level is back to
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
After surgery, you will still need to make changes in
your lifestyle. This lowers your risk of a heart attack or stroke. To help the bypass last as long as
can make it harder for you to recover. It will raise the chances of your arteries getting blocked again. If you need help quitting, talk to your
doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your
chances of quitting for good.
You will likely start a cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program in the hospital. This program will continue after you go home. It will help you recover. And it can prevent future problems with your heart. Talk to your doctor about whether rehab is
right for you.
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.
Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed
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Current as of:
January 27, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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