Coronary Bypass Surgery Explained

Published 12/05/06


The Coronary bypass procedure is usually called a CABG. It is a type of heart surgery that reroutes, or "bypasses", the blood around these clogged arteries. This video animation shows how this life saving surgery is done.


Coronary arteries, the vessels that bring blood to the heart muscle can become clogged due to fatty build up called plaque. This can decrease or stop the blood flow leading to chest pain or a heart attack. The coronary bypass procedure is usually called a CABG. Most coronary bypass surgeries involve a long incision right down the center of the chest. The surgeon then cuts the breastbone or sternum and opens the rib cage to expose the heart. During the surgery the patient's heart is temporarily stopped. A heart-lung machine performs the functions of the heart and lungs during the surgery. It continuously replenishes the oxygen-depleted blood, and oxygen- rich blood back into the circulatory system. A segment of a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body, usually a long vein in the leg or an artery in the chest wall is used for the bypass. One end of the vessel is attached or grafted, to the coronary artery below the blocked area. The other end of the vessel is sewn on to the large artery leaving the heart, the aorta. The bypass thus increases the blood flow and reduces angina and the risk of heart attack.

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