What Is Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting?

What Is Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting?

Coronary artery bypass grafting or CABG (often pronounced cabbage) is one of the most commonly performed open heart operations in the United States. Doctors perform CABG for patients who have a narrowing or blockage in one or more of their coronary arteries. Having a blockage in your coronary arteries is also known as a heart attack. 

Increasing blood flow to the heart muscle can relieve chest pain and reduce the chances that a patient will have a heart attack. Bypass surgery improves blood flow to the heart by creating a new route—also called a bypass—around the section of narrowed artery.

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How Is CABG Done?

During CABG procedures, heart surgeons will take a piece of healthy blood vessel, which is usually a vein in your leg or an artery in either your chest or arm. Surgeons then take this healthy blood vessel and sew it to bypass the part of the diseased coronary artery. This creates a new route for blood to flow so that your heart muscle will get the oxygen-rich blood it needs to work correctly.

Depending on how many of your coronary arteries are blocked, heart surgeons may perform one, two, three, or more bypasses.

When coronary bypass is not enough, your doctor may recommend transmyocardial revascularization (TMR).