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Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting - CABG

More than 300,000 people have successful bypass surgery in the United States each year. It is sometimes also called coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), coronary artery bypass, coronary bypass or bypass surgery.

In this procedure, a section of vein from your leg, chest or another part of your body is used to bypass the blocked or diseased portion of a coronary artery, which brings blood to the muscle of your heart. This creates a new, clear way for the blood to flow to get oxygen to your heart muscle so it can work properly. This type of surgery is done to the outer walls of the heart; it doesn't require opening up the chambers of the heart.

Sometimes people talk about single, double, triple or quadruple bypass surgery. This refers to the number of blocked arteries that had to be bypassed. However, the need for more bypasses doesn't necessarily mean the heart condition is worse.

During bypass surgery, the breastbone (sternum) is divided. The heart itself is stopped and cooled. The blood that normally would be pumped by the heart is sent through a heart-lung machine. A long piece of vein may be removed. In some cases, a small vein from the lower arm, the radial artery, may be used for the bypass. This is called a graft. One end will be attached to the ascending aorta, the large artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The other end of the graft will be attached to a coronary artery below the blocked area. The surgery takes two to six hours, depending on the number of bypasses needed.