Coronary Artery Bypass surgery, sometimes referred to as CABG (cabbage) is performed on individuals with a clogged or blocked coronary artery. The key goal is to improve blood flow to the heart.
During heart bypass surgery, an artery is taken from the arm, leg or chest and rerouted to the outside of the heart. The new vein or artery then carries blood around the blockage to the coronary artery.
The arteries that bring blood to the heart muscle (coronary arteries) can become clogged by plaque (a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances). This can slow or stop blood flow through the heart's blood vessels, leading to chest pain or a heart attack. Increasing blood flow to the heart muscle can relieve chest pain and reduce the risk of a heart attack.
Good candidates for coronary artery bypass are Individuals who have clogged coronary arteries (at least two or three major coronary arteries) due to a build-up of fat or cholesterol. The arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed because of this restriction.
Surgeons take a segment of a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body and make a detour around the blocked part of the coronary artery.
· An artery may be detached from the chest wall and the open end attached to the coronary artery below the blocked area.
· A piece of a long vein in your leg may be taken. One end is sewn above the blocked area and the other end of the vein is attached or "grafted" to the coronary artery below the blocked area.
· Blood can use this new path to flow freely to the heart muscle.
A patient may undergo one, two, even three bypass grafts, depending on how many coronary arteries are blocked. Cardiopulmonary bypass with a pump oxygenator (heart-lung machine) is used for most coronary bypass graft operations. This method employs the surgeon and other surgical staff members including a cardiac anesthesiologist, surgical nurses, and a perfusionist (blood flow specialist).
During the past several years, added surgeons have started performing off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery (OPCAB). This allows the heart to continue beating while the bypass graft is sewn in place. In some patients, OPCAB may reduce intraoperative bleeding (and the need for blood transfusion), renal complications and postoperative neurological deficits (problems after surgery).