Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (often called CABG or bypass surgery) is a treatment for coronary artery disease. Its purpose is to increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to the heart muscle.
Coronary artery disease causes narrowing or compete blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries. The result is restricted blood flow to the heart muscle, which can lead to angina (chest pain), heart attack, heart failure, or death.
During surgery, a piece of a vein or artery from the leg or arm is removed using a minimally invasive approach called an endoscopic vein harvest. This vein or artery and often an artery from the chest wall are sewn onto the aorta, the large artery leaving the heart. The other end of the vein or artery is then grafted to the coronary artery below the blocked area, delivering oxygen-rich blood. More than one bypass is often necessary.
Current techniques for cardiac surgery at John Muir Health include the standard use of a cardiopulmonary bypass pump. Traditional cardiac surgery uses this pump oxygenator, sometimes called a heart-lung machine, during surgery. Blood is circulated through the machine, allowing the surgeon to temporarily stop the beating heart. When the grafts are completed, the heart is restarted and resumes pumping blood through the body.
Beating-heart bypass surgery is also available at John Muir Health. This technology lets the surgeon perform CABG surgery without stopping the heart, thus eliminating the need for the heart-lung machine. This method, also called "off-pump" bypass surgery, can be used in selected cases only.