Coronary artery bypass grafting or CABG, also known as the bypass surgery, is a surgery performed to treat blocked coronary arteries. It improves blood flow to the heart and is recommended by surgeons for the treatment of severe coronary heart disease. In this disease, the arteries become narrow or blocked due to the buildup of plaque, which obstructs the flow of blood to the heart. CABG corrects this by creating new routes around the affected arteries, which restore the blood flow. The surgery can bypass one, two, three, four or five coronary arteries for the treatment and it depends on the extent of blockage.
When is it performed?
It is performed in cases of severe coronary heart disease and angina (chest pain). It is recommended after the medications have failed and only on those patients who have 50 to 99 percent obstruction in their coronary arteries. A patient is thoroughly examined to determine if they are the right candidate for the surgery.
How is it performed?
CABG is performed under general anesthesia and can take anything between three to six hours. It is a major operation in which the left thoracic artery is diverted to the left anterior descending branch of the left coronary artery. An incision is made in the middle of the chest and then the graft vessels are sewed to the coronary arteries beyond the blockage. The other end of the vein is attached to the aorta. The saphenous vein from the leg is the most commonly used blood vessel for bypass surgery and so are the chest wall arteries. After the vessels are sewn, the incision is sealed.
The patient has to stay in a hospital for a week after the surgery. After discharge, the recovery takes around four to six weeks depending on the health of the patient and the complexity of the surgery. During the recovery period, patients are advised not to indulge in strenuous activities. They can return to normal routine after complete recovery.