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Heart Bypass Surgery

Alternate Names

  • coronary artery bypass graft surgery
  • CABG
  • coronary revascularization
  • coronary bypass
  • Coronary arteries

Definition

Heart bypass surgery is an open-heart surgery that reroutes or "bypasses" blood around clogged arteries. Arteries are the blood vessels that supply freshly oxygenated blood to the tissues of the body - in this case, the heart muscle.

How is the procedure performed?

The two most common forms of heart bypass surgery are:
  • saphenous vein bypass. A large vein, called the saphenous vein, is removed from one of the legs. One end of the vein is attached to the aorta, the large artery leaving the heart, and the other end is connected to the coronary artery below the blockage.
  • internal mammary artery bypass. An artery called the internal mammary artery, located behind the breastbone, is used to bypass the blocked coronary artery.
A heart-lung machine is used during the surgery to keep the blood oxygenated during the time that the heart has been stopped for the surgery.

Sources

Brill, Susan. Everything You Need to Know About Heart Surgery But Were Afraid To Ask. Potomac: Kay-McKenna Enterprises, 1995.

Griffith, H. Winter. Instructions for Patients. Philadelphia:W.B. Saunders company, 1994.

Cheitlin, Sokolow, Mcllroy. Clinical Cardiology. Norwalk: Appleton and Lange, 1996.

American Heart Association

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