Coronary Bypass Graft Surgery

What Is Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery?

This is commonly called CABG (pronounced as “cabbage” ) or open-heart surgery. The surgery reroutes, or “bypasses” , blood around clogged arteries to improve blood flow and oxygenation to the heart.

Why Do I Need Surgery?

The arteries that bring blood to the heart muscle (coronary arteries) can become clogged by plague ( 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 heart attack.

How Do I Get Ready For My CABG?

Once the doctor has confirmed that you will need to go for surgery and the date has been set, you and your family members will go for the pre-operative counseling. The nurse-in-charge will explain on what to expect before/during/after the surgery.

Knowing what to expect may help reduce the anxiety most people feel before any operation. Talking to your doctor or other people who have had the surgery may help.

It is important that you do not eat or drink anything 12 hours before the scheduled time of your surgery. You may have a small amount of water with any medications you need to take. Be sure to ask your doctor if you have any questions about eating or drinking before your examination.

if you smoke, you should stop smoking.

What Is Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery Like?

Our surgeons will take a segment of a healthy blood vessel from either your chest wall, leg or arm and use it to make a detour around the blocked section of the coronary artery.

A patient may have one or more 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.

During the past several years, more surgeons have started performing off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery (OPCAB). For this procedure, the heart continues beating while the bypass graft is sewn in place.


After the surgery, the patient is moved to a hospital bed in the intensive care unit. Heart rate and blood pressure monitoring devices monitor the patient continuously for 12 to 24 hours. Medications that regulate circulation and blood pressure will be given intravenously. A breathing tube (endotracheal tube) will stay in place until the doctors are confident that the patient is awake and ready to breathe comfortably on his or her own.

The patient may feel groggy and disoriented, and the sites of incisions both the chest and the leg, if a segment of blood vessel was taken from the leg, may be sore. Medication for pain will be given as needed

Patients usually stay in the hospital for at least eight days or longer.

During this time, some tests will be done to assess and monitor the patient’s condition. After discharge from the hospital, the patient may experience side effects such as:

  • Constipation
  • Swelling in the area from which the segment of blood vessel was removed
  • Muscle pain or tightness in the shoulders and upper back
  • Fatigue, mood swings, feelings of depression, difficulty in sleeping


Many of these effects usually disappear in about four to six weeks, but a full recovery may take a few months or more. The patient is usually enrolled in a physician-supervised program of cardiac rehabilitation. This program teaches stress management techniques and other important lessons (e.g, about diet and exercise) and helps the patients re-build their strength and confidence.

Patients are often advised to eat less fat, walk or do some physical activity to regain their strength. Doctors also often recommend following a home routine of increasing activity-doing light housework, going out, visiting friends, and climbing stairs. The goal is to return to a normal, active, healthy lifestyle.


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