Coronary Artery

Bypass Grafting


Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) is a procedure used to treat coronary artery disease that improves blood flow to the heart. Surgeons use CABG to treat people who have severe coronary heart disease.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the narrowing of the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle) that limits the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. CAD is caused by the buildup of fatty materials (plaque) that build up inside the coronary arteries.

CABG is the most common type of open-heart surgery in the United States. CABG treats the blocked or narrowed arteries by bypassing the blocked portion of the coronary artery with a piece of healthy blood vessel from elsewhere in your body. Blood vessels, or grafts, used for the bypass procedure may be pieces of a vein from your leg or an artery in your chest.

Signs & Symptoms

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Coronary artery bypass surgery is a procedure used to treat coronary artery disease. Symptoms of coronary artery disease may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue (severe tiredness)
  • Palpitations
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in the hands and feet
  • Indigestions

Unfortunately, you may not have any symptoms of coronary artery disease and as a result of a decrease in blood supply to your heart muscle, there is a rick of a heart attack.

What to Expect

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Your doctor will explain the procedure, review your health history with you, and may perform a physical exam. Your doctor also may do blood tests before the procedure to find out how long it takes your blood to clot.


Traditionally, to bypass the blocked coronary artery, your doctor makes a large incision in the chest and temporarily stops the heart. The doctor will cut your breastbone in half lengthwise to open your chest and spread it apart. Once the heart is exposed, your doctor will insert tubes into the heart so that the blood can be pumped through the body by a heart-lung bypass machine. The bypass machine is necessary to pump blood while your heart is stopped.


After the surgery, you will be taken to the intensive care unit (ICU) to be closely monitored. Machines will display your electrocardiogram (ECG) tracing, blood pressure, other pressure readings, breathing rate, and oxygen level. This procedure requires you to stay in the hospital for at least several days. You will likely have a tube in your throat to help you breathe until you are stable enough to breathe on your own.

When your doctor determines that you are ready, you will be moved from the ICU to a post-surgical nursing unit. You will continue to recover until a member of your team arranges for you to go home. You will schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor, approximately 4 weeks after surgery.

How We Treat

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Coronary artery bypass graft surgery is a major surgical procedure requiring general anesthesia. This procedure is performed after opening the chest through an incision through the breastbone. This surgery is advised to patients with significant narrowings and blockages of the heart arteries. Veins taken from the leg and an artery taken from within the chest are used to bypass the coronary artery blockages.

The bypass grafts have a high chance of remaining open in the first five to eight years; however, by ten years after the operation, about half of vein bypass grafts are either blocked or have developed a severe narrowing.


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Are there any risks associated with CABG?

Yes, possible risks of coronary artery bypass graft surgery include:
- bleeding during or after the surgery
-blood clots that can result in heart attack
-lung problems
-infection at the incision site
-breathing problems
-kidney failure
-abnormal heart rhythms
-failure of the graft

How do CABG surgery and angioplasty compare?

Both procedures are very effective in reducing angina symptoms, preventing heart attacks, and reducing death. Studies have shown similar benefits or a slight advantage to CABG (primarily in severe diabetics). The best choice for an individual patient is up to the discretion of his or her cardiologist, surgeon, and primary doctor.