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Coronary artery bypass surgery

  • Coronary Artery Bypass surgery also known as CABG is a surgical procedure in which one or more blocked coronary arteries are bypassed by a blood vessel graft to restore normal blood flow to the heart. These grafts are usually taken from the patient's own arteries and veins located in the chest, leg or arm. The graft bypasses the blocked artery to create new pathways for oxygen-rich blood to flow to the heart. There are several types of bypass grafts and the surgeon decides which graft to use, depending on the location of the blockage, the amount of the blockage and the size of the coronary arteries.
  • Internal mammary arteries are the most common bypass grafts used, as they have shown the best results. These arteries can be kept intact at their origin as they have their own oxygen-rich blood supply; these are then sewn to the coronary artery below the site of the blockage.
  • The radial artery is another common type of arterial graft. There are two arteries in the arm, the ulnar and radial arteries and most people receive blood to their arm from the ulnar artery and will not have any side effects if the radial artery is used.
  • Saphenous veins are used as bypass grafts. Minimally invasive saphenous vein removal does not require a long incision and these results in less scarring and a faster recovery.

There are other surgical techniques used if you're having a coronary artery bypass surgery:

  • Heart-Lung Machine: During an "on-pump" surgery, the heart-lung bypass machine is used to take over for the heart and lungs, allowing the circulation of blood throughout the rest of the body. In this procedure the heart's beating is stopped so the surgeon can perform the bypass procedure on a "still" heart. Off-pump or beating heart bypass surgery allows surgeons to perform surgery on the heart while it is still beating. The heart-lung machine is not used.
  • Minimally invasive surgery: In this procedure, a surgeon performs bypass surgery through a small incision in the chest, often with the help of robotics and video imaging, enabling the surgeon operate in a small area. Variations of minimally invasive surgery may be called port-access or keyhole surgery.

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