Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is a major surgical procedure for people who suffer from severe coronary artery disease (CAD). This procedure involves using a piece of healthy blood vessel from other parts of the body (leg, arm, chest, abdomen, etc.) to bypass a blocked or damaged artery supplying nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This allows for increased blood flow to the heart.
You should discuss with your doctor about whether this procedure is the right option for you compared to other artery-opening procedures. This procedure is not meant to be a cure for heart disease and may be repeated.
This surgery is generally considered if you have narrowing of a few coronary arteries, impaired functioning of the left ventricle (the heart's main pump), blockage or damage to the left main coronary artery (which supplies most of the blood to the left ventricle), or have if other types of procedures (e.g., stent, angioplasty) have failed in the past.
A coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
Risks and precautions
In general, surgery and the use of anesthesia come with some risks that are associated with factors like your health condition and what the surgery involves. Side effects are very rare but can include trouble breathing, reactions to the anesthetic, bleeding, infection, scarring, and death.
Some risks associated with CABG surgery during or after the procedure include:
- blood clots
- chest pain
- difficulty thinking
- problems with memory
- heart attack
- irregular heartbeat
- kidney failure
Get immediate medical assistance if you experience any of these complications or side effects.
It is important that you understand all the risks of complications and side effects of the procedure, and what you or your doctor can do to avoid them. Make sure that your doctor is aware of all your concerns.
Before the procedure
It is important that you fully understand what the procedure involves beforehand. Ask your doctor to explain the risks, benefits, and drawbacks of the procedure, and don't be shy to probe further until you are comfortable with your doctor's responses.
Before the surgery, your doctor will give you detailed instructions to follow. In addition, your doctor may order a number of tests such as blood test, X-ray, electrocardiogram, and coronary angiogram. The coronary angiogram is especially important in locating the sites of blockages.
You may not be able to eat or drink before the procedure; follow the timing that your doctor recommended. In general, people are advised to not eat for 8 hours before the procedure; however, you may continue to drink clear liquids until 2 hours before the procedure.
If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications, supplements, or herbal products, make sure you inform your doctor or pharmacist. Ask them whether it is necessary for you to stop taking any of these medications and products before the procedure. It is also important to tell them if you have allergies to certain medications or have certain medical conditions.
Plan to have someone drive you home after the procedure.