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Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery

The coronary arteries supply the heart with the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to pump blood to your body. These arteries can become narrow or blocked usually as a result of a buildup of fatty deposits (plaques) in the walls of the vessels.

What is coronary artery bypass graft surgery?

CABG is a procedure to bypass or fix arteries of the heart (coronary arteries) that have either become narrow or blocked. 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.

Coronary artery bypass graft surgery: What to expect

Here are a few details about the procedure:

  • An IV tube will be inserted into one of your veins
  • You will be given a general anesthetic to make you fall sleep.
  • 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 may be placed on a heart-lung bypass machine. This machine will provide oxygen to your blood while the heart is undergoing surgery.
  • 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 complete, you will be taken off the heart-lung machine if it was used, and a bandage (dressing) will be placed over the incisions.

Coronary artery bypass graft surgery: Recovery

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

Why choose UF Health Jacksonville?

At UF Health Jacksonville, each patient is assessed by a team of cardiac surgeons and cardiologists to create a customized, effective treatment plan. Our cardiothoracic surgeons are able to offer more treatment options than other facilities in the region, which we believe provides better outcomes for our 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 that leads to improved long-term survival.

With our heart-team approach, we believe that no other heart program in our region is as comprehensive and as dedicated to superior patient care.

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