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What is Coronary Artery Bypass Graft? (CABG)

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CABG is the most common type of open-heart surgery that helps people improve their heart’s blood flow. It is beneficial for people who are suffering from severe CHD or coronary heart disease. In this condition, the inner side of the coronary arteries builds up a waxy material called plaque. The primary function of these arteries is to provide blood rich in oxygen to the heart.

However, the artery gets narrowed down because of the buildup of plaque. As a result, it does not allow the blood to pass through into the heart muscles. Moreover, if the condition gets severe, it causes shortness of breath, chest pain, heart attack, discomfort, and sometimes, sudden death.

According to WHO statistics data in 2008, there was a total death of 17.3 million people worldwide, of which 7.3 million died because of CAD.

To cure this disease, you need CABG, where the doctor uses a healthy vein or artery from the body and graft it to the blocked one around the heart. This process creates a new passage for the oxygen-rich blood to pass through into the heart muscle easily.

Types of CABG

The type of bypass surgery you go through will depend on the number of arteries that are blocked. Seeing your condition, the doctor will recommend any of the following surgery:

  • Double bypass: To repair two blocked arteries.
  • Single bypass: To correct a single blocked artery.
  • Triple bypass: Here, three arteries are blocked.
  • Quadruple bypass: To repair four blocked arteries.

Depending on the number of arteries blocked, you can go through heart failure, heart attack, or cardiac arrest. This number determines the severity of the condition, and the more arteries are blocked, the more complex the surgery is.

Risks of CABG

Just like every other open-heart surgery, bypass surgery also has some complications. However, with the advancement of the techniques, the procedure has improved a lot. In fact, according to a study, it has become the most studied surgery in the history of operations. It has positively increased the number of successful surgeries. But if in case you suffer complications, it will mainly include:

  • Blood clots
  • Arrhythmia
  • Bleeding
  • Kidney failure
  • Chest pain
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Infection

CABG Procedure Steps

As soon as you arrive, the doctor will give you general anesthesia to relieve all the pain during the surgery. In the next step, the surgeons will prepare your artery or remove the healthy vein that they will use to perform bypass grafts.

Next, in the process, the doctor will make a small cut down your chest centre through your breast bone or sternum. It is essential to have a clear view of the heart and the blocked coronary artery.

Now, the doctors will stop your heart for a short period to efficiently perform surgery on a still heart. Meanwhile, a heart-lung bypass will take over the work of the heart and the lungs. The device will pump blood and provide oxygen to the body. This process is also called on-pump surgery.

After successfully putting the grafts in place, the doctors turn off the machine pump, and your heart starts beating as usual. However, the doctors sometimes choose to perform the surgery while your heart is still beating. In this case, there is no need for a heart-lung machine, and the process is known as off-pump or beating heart surgery.

After placing grafts at proper positions, the surgeons first sew one section of the vein in the area below the artery blockage. They attach the other part to a small opening made in the aorta. This opening helps to redirect the blood flow around the blocked one.

Also, if the doctor used a thoracic artery, he connects one end to the coronary artery. The other end still stays attached to the aorta.

After the surgeons place the temporary wire and chest tube in front of the sternum, it is closed with special ones. You will receive internal stitches or external stitches. Furthermore, they use a chest tube to drain the blood. The surgery mostly lasts for three to five hours.

Conclusion

Coronary artery bypass surgery is opted by several people to cure their problems relating to blocked heart arteries. It helps to avoid many severe conditions and has relatively fewer complications because of advanced technology. The surgery usually lasts for 3 to 5 hours and takes 6 to 8 weeks to recover.

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