Heart Bypass Surgery: How it is done?

Heart bypass surgery is also known as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery or bypass surgery. A team of of specialists will ensure the procedure is performed properly.

Updated: June 16, 2022

Heart bypass surgery is also known as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery or bypass surgery. This is a surgical procedure used to replace damaged arteries in your heart muscle and to restore normal blood flow to an obstructed coronary artery.

Preparation before a heart bypass surgery:

If the surgery is scheduled in advance and is not an emergency procedure, you will have to under go several procedure before the surgery. At first your health and family medical history will be discussed by your doctor such as if you have diabetes, kidney disease or peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
To get an accurate picture of your health few test can be done which include:

  • chest X-ray
  • electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
  • blood samples
  • angiogram

Who are involve in performing the bypass surgery?

A team of of specialists will ensure the procedure is performed properly.

  • A perfusion technologist, sometimes called a blood flow specialist works with the heart-lung machine to check the regular flow of blood in and out of the body to machine.
  • A team of cardiologist will supervise the procedure.
  • A heart surgeon will perform the procedure.
  • A cardiac anesthesiologists will ensure anesthesia is delivered to your body properly to keep you unconscious during the procedure.
  • Imaging specialists will also be present to take X-rays or help ensure that the team can view the site of the surgery and the tissues around it.

How the heart bypass surgery performed?

Before the surgery, you will change your outfit into a hospital gown. Some medication, fluids, and anesthesia will be given through an IV. When the anesthesia starts working, you will fall into a deep, painless sleep.
A cardiopulmonary bypass machine, also known as the heart-lung machine will be connected with your body. The machine circulates oxygenated blood through your body while your surgeon operates on your heart. The machine will remove carbon dioxide by pumping the blood out of your heart , and the machine will then be filled with oxygen. The oxygenated blood is pumped back into your body without going through the heart and lungs. This keeps oxygenated blood pumping throughout your body.
Some procedures are performed off-pump. A cooling techniques, sometimes called extreme cooling is used to bring your body temperature down to around 64.4oF (18oC). Your heart needs less oxygen when your body temperature is lowered and hence making it possible to do a long heart surgery. Your heart will be cool down with the help of the heart-lung machine or by dousing your heart in cold, salty water.
These techniques decrease the risk of heart damage or brain damage from a lack of oxygen.
To start the surgery an incision in the middle of your chest will be made. Your rib cage is then spread apart to expose your heart. Your surgeon may opt for minimally invasive surgery which involves smaller cuts and special miniaturized instruments.
 A healthy blood vessel from inside your chest wall, leg or other part of the body will be removed by the surgeon to replace the blocked or damaged artery. When your surgeon is done with the replacement, the heart-lung machine will be removed, and the function of the bypass will be checked. After ensuring that the bypass is working properly you will be stitched up, bandaged, and taken to the intensive care unit (ICU) for monitoring.

You will have a tube in your mouth, when you get the conscious after surgery. You may also feel pain or have side effects from the procedure, including:

  •     short-term memory loss
  •     confusion
  •     trouble keeping track of time

To keep a monitor of your condition you will be kept in ICU for one to two days. Once you are stable, you will be moved to another room for at least seven days. Caring for the incision wounds, getting plenty of rest and refraining from physical activity, that is what you have to do after a heart surgery. You should not drive until you are completely cured. Even without complications, recovery from heart bypass surgery can take 6 to 12 weeks.
A cardiac rehabilitation may be recommended for you which will involve a carefully monitored physical activity and occasional stress tests to see how your heart is healing.
Any lasting pain or discomfort should be complained to your doctor during your follow-up appointments. You should also call your doctor if you experience:

  •     fever over 100.4oF (38oC)
  •     rapid heart rate
  •     increasing pain in your chest
  •     redness or discharge around the incision


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