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Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a surgery for people with obstructive coronary artery disease and who may not be a candidate for a less invasive procedure such as coronary angioplasty or stenting. During CABG, the surgeon uses a graft to create a detour around the narrowed or blocked sections of your artery. Coronary bypass surgery improves blood flow in the heart, restores heart function and relieves angina. More than 300,000 CABG surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year.

What is coronary artery bypass grafting?

CABG is an open-heart surgery for people with obstructive coronary artery disease. This condition results when these arteries are blocked by plaque that severely limits or prevents blood flow to the heart. The surgery involves using blood vessels from another part of the body to bypass the narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. These vessels can be taken from the arm, the chest wall or the legs. The number of bypasses performed depends on the severity and number of blockages.

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Who can have coronary bypass surgery?

People with obstructive coronary artery disease will be evaluated by the heart care team to decide if coronary artery bypass grafting or angioplasty or stenting is the best choice for them. Your arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside. As you age, your arteries can narrow or become blocked through a process called atherosclerosis, which means hardening of the arteries. During atherosclerosis, a sticky substance called plaque can build up on the walls of your arteries. People who are considering bypass grafting surgery typically have advanced atherosclerosis, which, if left untreated, can lead to heart attack or heart failure.

How does coronary bypass grafting surgery work?

During CABG, your surgeon reroutes the blood flow in the blocked or narrowed artery by placing a graft around the blockage. Your surgeon takes a section of vein or artery from another area in your body and connects it above and below the blockage to allow blood to pass around the blockage. This new blood vessel is the graft. It restores blood flow to the heart. Your surgeon will determine what type of artery or vein will work best for your surgery.

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Benefits and risks of coronary artery bypass grafting

CABG can offer many benefits, especially for those with serious heart disease. Bypass surgery can be lifesaving for those at high risk for a heart attack and can significantly improve quality of life for those with long-term discomfort due to their heart disease symptoms.

Although coronary artery bypass grafting is an open-heart surgery that does carry risks, today’s advanced surgical techniques make CABG safer than ever. For this reason, serious complications following surgery are possible, but less common than they once were. Your doctor will discuss the risks of CABG with you before your operation.

What happens during coronary artery bypass surgery?

Prior to your procedure, your heart care team will help prepare you for your coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. They’ll help you understand your condition and answer any questions about your hospital stay and recovery.

After your surgery, you will be encouraged to participate in cardiac rehabilitation. This medically supervised program incorporates exercise with education about heart-healthy living and emotional support for stress management.

Why choose us for coronary artery bypass surgery

Your heart care team, which includes a cardiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon, will collaborate with other specialists to coordinate your individualized plan of care and ensure that you receive the best possible care to get the best possible outcome. As an academic medical center, our physicians are at the forefront of innovation.