Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

What is bypass surgery?

When the arteries to your heart are blocked or damaged, the flow of oxygenated blood is restricted or completely stopped, and your heart can’t work properly. A coronary artery bypass provides a way for surgeons to create a “detour” around the blocked area. The result is restored blood flow and increased quality of life.

Why do I need a bypass?

Your surgeon may recommend coronary artery bypass surgery for any one of the following reasons:

  • to provide relief from angina
  • to improve the heart’s pumping ability
  • to prevent heart attacks
  • to reduce the use of heart medications

Ask your cardiologist or surgeon if you have specific questions about why a bypass was recommended for your situation.

How is a bypass performed?

In a coronary artery bypass, healthy arteries or veins are "harvested" from other parts of your body, most often the mammary artery in your chest, the radial artery in your forearm, or the saphenous vein in your leg.

The surgeon then uses these healthy veins or arteries to create “bypass grafts” to conduct critical blood flow around the blocked portions of the coronary arteries.

With "traditional" bypass surgery, your heart will be temporarily stopped using a combination of medication and a heart-lung machine, called a “pump.” More and more frequently, our surgeons are using alternative surgical techniques, such as Beating Heart or "Off-Pump" Bypass Surgery. Ask your surgeon or cardiologist if you are a good candidate for this option.