Heart Bypass or CABG

Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting or CABG is the technical term for a heart bypass surgery, a very common and well-known procedure to bypass a blocked artery preventing proper blood flow to the heart. A bypass is usually required when the occlusion of the artery is such that a heart attack is very possible or imminent. If you know someone that underwent a bypass within the past couple of decades, you will be reminded of their procedure by a large scar at the sternum. This is because a traditional CABG required open heart surgery where the rib cage would be cut and separated to access the heart. During this time, an external device pumps blood, allowing the heart to be stopped while the surgeon grafts the bypass.

Over the next four to six hours, thoracic (chest) or saphenous (leg) veins are grafted to bypass the occluded portion of the coronary artery and restore its full oxygen-rich blood flow. At the end of a traditional CABG, a pacemaker may be required to keep the heart beating appropriately. The pacemaker is almost certainly necessary if the heart-lung machine has been used to provide external pumping during the procedure. The ribs are then wired together, and the incision is closed. A drain is used to minimize fluid accumulation.

Recovery from a traditional CABG requires up to 8 weeks. The procedure is invasive, but necessary when a triple or quadruple bypass is called for.

The Minimally Invasive CABG Option

With new techniques and technology, we have reduced the invasiveness of the CABG for patients that require only a single or double bypass. The traditional CABG requires about a 12-inch open incision. However, we can make smaller incisions between the ribs, thus avoiding rib separation. Further, during the minimally invasive procedure, the heart is not stopped. The ability to keep the heart beating has been made possible by a mechanical stabilizing device that tamps down movement around the graft area. This allows your cardiologist to suture the accessory artery in place without additional motion.

Of course, the minimally invasive option offers a number of significant benefits including less pain, less blood loss, a shorter hospital stay, and a faster return to normal activity. However, this benefit only extends to those who require a single or double bypass. Those with triple or quadruple bypasses will still require a traditional CABG

From an effectiveness and safety standpoint, minimally invasive surgery meets or exceeds the safety standards of a traditional CABG and yields similar results.

For patients that require a bypass, we are pleased to offer both minimally invasive and traditional CABG, depending on their needs. Most importantly, speak to your cardiologist about a proper cardiovascular screening regimen for your age and any cardiovascular risk factors that you may have. Prevention is the goal, but if a procedure is necessary, Nevada Cardiology Associates offers several options for you to consider.