Coronary arteries supply your heart muscle with blood. If you have significant blockages in one or more of the coronary arteries, your doctor may recommend coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. This surgery takes blood vessels from your chest wall, arm or leg and creates a detour—or “bypass”—around the blockages to restore normal blood flow to your heart.

Other names for the procedure are coronary bypass surgery, coronary artery surgery, heart bypass and bypass surgery.

Surgery is recommended only if less invasive treatments have not succeeded in opening clogged arteries or are not options for you. Less invasive treatments include coronary angioplasty or a stent procedure. Treating coronary artery disease is important to prevent a heart attack and other serious health conditions.

There are different approaches to doing bypass surgery. Your doctor will review with you what option will help produce the best result for your heart and your overall health. Find out how to recover your health and reduce your risk of future heart problems.

Surgery options

Bypass surgery takes about three to six hours. It depends on the surgical technique, location of blockages and number of coronary arteries requiring a bypass graft. You’ll be given general anesthesia so you’ll be asleep during the procedure. We continuously measure your blood pressure during surgery.

Options for bypass surgery at Ohio State’s Ross Heart Hospital include:

  • Coronary artery bypass graft surgery with a heart-lung machine. During this open-heart surgery, your surgeon will cut your breastbone and spread open your rib cage to work on your heart. Your heart will be stopped during the procedure, and you’ll be connected to a heart-lung machine that does the work of your heart and lungs during the surgery. Your doctor will use arteries from your chest or arms, or a vein from your leg, as a bypass graft to be sewn around the blocked area. When all new grafts are in place, you’ll be taken off the heart-lung machine and your heart will resume its work.
  • Anaortic, total arterial, off-pump coronary artery bypass graft surgery (anOPCABG). Ohio State is the only heart hospital in the region to offer this procedure. It’s noted for working on a beating heart (without the use of a heart-lung bypass machine) and being anaortic—not manipulating the aorta. The aorta is the large blood vessel that takes blood from the heart to the rest of the body. A stabilizing device minimizes motion of the beating heart to increase the surgeon’s precision. Studies have shown fewer complications after surgery with this approach. This surgery is an optimal option for patients who may have complex diseases that mean they are not good candidates for traditional CABG.
  • Minimally invasive surgery. For patients with certain patterns of coronary artery disease, our surgeons can perform minimally invasive bypass surgery with small incisions. The surgeon makes a smaller incision in your chest, without having to open the breastbone. The surgeon views the inside of the heart from a magnified screen to guide robotic “hands.” These hands precisely sew in grafts that reroute blood around clogged arteries to improve blood flow to the heart. Recovery from minimally invasive surgery is generally quicker than with traditional open surgery.

Learn what to expect before and after coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

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