Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG)

If blocked arteries have caused severe coronary heart disease and medication or lifestyle changes have not helped, a coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) procedure may be recommended.

Baptist Health is nationally recognized for excellence in treating heart disease. We offer a full spectrum of heart care and the latest approaches to coronary artery bypass grafting. Best of all, you’ll appreciate convenient appointment times, locations near you and a personalized focus to meet your needs before, during and after your procedure.

What is Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)?

Coronary artery bypass grafting is a surgical procedure that creates new routes around blocked arteries in the heart. The new route is created by taking a healthy blood vessel from the leg, arm or chest and connecting it to other arteries in the heart. This allows oxygen-rich blood to more easily flows into the heart.

What Can Cardiac Catheter Ablation Accomplish?

A CABG procedure may be recommended as a treatment of the symptoms of coronary heart disease, or done in an emergency situation to treat a heart attack. The procedure does not cure the heart disease that caused the blocked artery, but can:

  • Relieve symptoms including chest pain and shortness of breath
  • Improve heart function
  • Reduce the risk of dying from heart disease 

What Can I Expect During the Procedure?

Your CABG surgery may be done as a traditional open-chest procedure or as a minimally invasive procedure. For either procedure, you will be given anesthesia, so you will be asleep and not feel any pain. Depending on the type of procedure, surgery may take three to six hours.

Open-Chest Surgery 

To begin open-chest surgery, a large incision is made in the chest so the surgeon can reach the heart. You may be connected to a heart-lung bypass machine that will do the work of your heart and lungs while the surgery happens. The blood vessel that will be used as the bypass will be removed from your chest, arm or leg. One end of the blood vessel is sewn below the blockage of the artery and the other end is connected to the aorta, bypassing the blockage. The blood circulating through the bypass machine will be allowed to circulate back into your heart, which will be shocked back into rhythm. The surgeon will watch to see that the graft and your heart are working well. The incision will be closed. Tubes will be inserted to drain fluid away from the heart during healing.

Minimally Invasive Surgery 

A minimally invasive CABG procedure may be recommended, especially if a person is not a good candidate for traditional open-chest surgery or if there are only one or two bypasses needed. Minimally invasive CABG surgery requires a smaller chest incision compared to open-chest surgery. A blood vessel in the chest wall will be used as the bypass and connected as in open-chest surgery. You will not be connected to a heart-lung bypass machine but you will have a tube inserted to drain fluid away from the heart during healing.


Open-Chest Surgery

Immediately after the surgery, you will gradually wake up from the anesthesia. You will be left on a ventilator and closely monitored until you take over breathing on your own. Once you can breathe fully on your own and cough, you will be taken off the ventilator and your stomach tube will be removed. Your nurse will help you take deep breaths and cough every couple hours, which will likely be uncomfortable, but prevents mucus from collecting in your lungs. You will typically spend several days in the ICU, where an ECG machine will constantly monitor your vitals such as blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen level. You will be given pain medications as needed, and may remain on an IV for medications to control blood pressure or problems with bleeding. 

As your condition stabilizes and you become more active and start eating solid foods, you will be moved from the ICU to a surgical recovery room. Your hospital stay will likely last about a week before you are ready to be sent home. Once at home, you will need to keep your surgical area clean and dry, and follow any specific bathing and medication instructions. It will take several weeks or more before you are ready to return to work, and several months or more before you are fully recovered. 

Minimally Invasive Procedures

The recovery process for minimally invasive procedures is similar to the recovery process for open-chest surgery. You may experience less pain and recover more quickly, however, because the surgical sites are smaller and require cutting through less bone, or none at all. 

Estimated Recovery Timeline

Side effects from the surgery, such as swelling, muscle pain and fatigue will subside in four to six weeks. Most people recover to their fullest possible extent in two to three months. Recovery is often faster for those who have had minimally invasive surgery. Make sure to keep your follow-up appointments and follow instructions for heart-healthy eating and exercise.

Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting Possible Risks

Any medical procedure carries risks, but coronary artery bypass grafting is typically a safe and effective procedure. You will be given instructions about how to avoid these specific risks, as well as what to do if you experience these issues after your procedure:

  • Bleeding 
  • Infection
  • Lung complications

Next Steps with MyChart

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