Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a procedure to bypass or fix arteries of the heart (coronary arteries) that have become narrow or blocked. This narrowing is usually the result of a buildup of fatty deposits (plaques) in the walls of the vessels. The coronary arteries supply the heart with the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to pump blood to your body.

In this procedure, a section of blood vessel from another part of the body (usually the chest, arm, or leg) is removed (harvested) and then inserted where it will allow blood to bypass the damaged part of the coronary artery. The harvested section of blood vessel is called the graft.

What to Expect During Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting Surgery

  • To reduce your risk of infection:
    • Your health care team will wash or sanitize their hands.
    • Your skin will be washed with soap.
    • Hair may be removed from the surgical area.
  • An IV tube will be inserted into one of your veins.
  • You will be given one or more of the following:
    • A medicine to help you relax (sedative)
    • A medicine to make you fall asleep (general anesthetic)
  • A cut (incision) will be made down the front of the chest through the breastbone (sternum). The sternum will be spread open so your heart can be seen.
  • You will be placed on a heart-lung bypass machine. This machine will provide oxygen to your blood while the heart is undergoing surgery. Your surgeon may be able to do the surgery without the heart-lung bypass machine. That is called beating heart bypass surgery.
  • If a heart-lung bypass machine is needed, your heart will be temporarily stopped.
  • A section of blood vessel will be harvested from another part of your body (usually the chest, arm, or leg) and used to bypass the blocked arteries of your heart.
  • When the bypass is done, you will be taken off the heart-lung machine if it was used.
  • If your heart was stopped, it will be restarted and will take over again normally.
  • Your chest will be closed.
  • A bandage (dressing) will be placed over the incisions.
  • Tubes will remain in your chest and will be connected to a suction device to help drain fluid and reinflate the lungs.

Recovering from Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting Surgery

Recovery from open-heart surgery typically takes six to twelve weeks. During this time you should expect to take some down time from your normal activities and work and will need extra assistance from others. Your recovery plan will be tailored to your individual needs, but you can generally expect:

  • A prescription for medicine to help control the pain, so you can relax and heal more effectively
  • Instructions on how to care for your incision site, such as how to dress and cover the wound, and how to bathe while it heals
  • Education on how to follow a heart-healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy and whole grains; you may need to avoid foods that are high in salt, cholesterol and saturated fats
  • The opportunity to attend regular cardiovascular rehabilitation once you are ready to return to physical activity

Your surgeon will speak with you about your recovery and any related restrictions before you leave the hospital.

Why Choose UF Health for Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting surgery?

At UF Health each patient is assessed by a team of surgeons and cardiologists to create a customized, effective treatment plan. The cardiothoracic surgeons at UF Health provide more treatment options than other facilities in the region which often means better outcomes for cardiovascular patients.

For CABG surgery, UF Health cardiothoracic surgeons routinely utilize rigid fixation which leads to less pain and quicker recovery. They also consistently perform multi-arterial revascularization which leads to improved long term survival.

No other heart program in our region is as complete and as dedicated to superior patient care utilizing a heart team approach to obtain the best patient outcomes.

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