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Heart Bypass Surgery

The blood supply to the cardiac muscle is through the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries are located in the anterior and posterior locations of the heart giving a branched appearance. The width of each coronary artery is 3-4 mm and it continues throughout the cardiac muscle as small branches supplying blood to the entire heart.


Heart Bypass surgery

The cardiac muscle experiences ischemia or lack of blood supply if there is an impairment in the coronary artery. The function of the coronary artery is affected due to fatty deposits or plaque. These fatty deposits block the blood supply through the coronary artery. In this situation, the patient begins to experience chest pain and discomfort. Angina can lead to cardiac arrest if not treated immediately. The coronary artery is either partially clogged or totally clogged in these conditions. One of effective ways to treat this condition is through a surgical procedure called Coronary artery bypass graft or CABG.


The bypass procedure of the heart is an intricate and meticulous procedure involving a team of cardiac surgeons, anesthetist and perfusionist. The patient is administered general anesthesia as it is an invasive procedure. The CABG can be done in two ways, the first one involves the maintenance of circulation through the heart-lung machine operated and monitored by the perfusionist during the procedure. Here, the heart is stopped for about 30 - 90 minutes. The second one is called the Beating heart surgery or Off Pump surgery, in which the procedure is done on a beating heart. This is safer for patients who are at increased risk of complications, such as those suffering vascular disease, aortic calcifications, carotid artery stenosis or breathing or kidney problems. Other procedures are minimally invasive bypass surgery and robotic-assisted bypass surgery.


The entire CABG is categorized in two phases. In the first phase, a healthy blood vessel is taken to create the bypass near the region where the coronary artery is blocked. The graft is taken either from the arm (radial artery), chest (internal mammary artery) or legs (saphenous vein). Since there are other blood vessels connecting these tissues, it is safe to use them. Depending on the location, amount and size of the blockage, the choice of substitute blood vessel is made. In the second phase, the surgeon creates the bypass route from the clogged site of the coronary artery to generate a healthy supply region for the cardiac muscle. The duration of the procedure ranges from 3-6 hours depending on the number of grafts the patient requires. Patients are transferred to critical care units after surgery and generally kept under admission for a period of six to nine days.


Postoperative care in CABG

The risk factors associated with the CABG procedure include heart rhythm problems, kidney or lung failure, chest wound infection and memory malfunction. Postoperative care plays an important role in retaining the normal function of the heart. Patients notice a swelling at the site of incision which gradually subsides after a few weeks. Postoperative experience in CABG requires rehabilitation as many patients complain of anxiety, lack of sleep and anorexia. Patients are advised to abstain from activities such as heavy lifting, driving and climbing stairs. Cardiac rehabilitation techniques aid the patients in improving their cardiac endurance levels and also creating an optimistic mind set after surgery. Medication and exercise in moderate levels subsequently improve the functionality of the heart; however patients are advised to avoid foods containing trans-fats and smoking.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: October 16, 2017