Coronary Artery Bypass Graft

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft – Overview, Processes, and Risks Explained

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a surgery that betters the flow of blood to the heart. It is used for those people who have coronary heart disease – a condition wherein a substance known as plaque gets built-up inside the coronary arteries. Plaque is composed of calcium, cholesterol, fat, and other substances.

The deposition of fat in the coronary arteries clogs them up and reduces the flow of blood to the heart. When this blockage becomes very severe, it leads to various complications such as shortness of breath and in severe cases, heart attack. In such cases, a CABG surgery is done wherein a healthy artery or vein from the body is connected to the blocked artery which bypasses the blocked portion of the artery and thus the name.


CABG has become very common all around the world these days. Some of the other names for this surgery are –

It is not necessary that coronary heart disease has to be treated only by CABG. There are other procedures for doing so including angioplasty wherein a small mesh tube known as a stent is placed in the artery to keep it open.

Some of the goals of CABG include –

  • enabling a more healthy lifestyle
  • Increasing the chances of survival
  • improving the overall quality of life
  • bettering the pumping action of the heart

Types of CABG

Some of the types of CABG are as follows –

Traditional Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

This is the most common type of CABG and is done when at least one artery needs to be bypassed. This is done when at least one artery needs to be bypassed and involves opening the chest bone to access the heart. Next, the heart is stopped and a heart-lung bypass machine is used to circulate blood through the body.

Once the surgery has been completed, blood flow to the heart is restored. While the heart is capable of starting on its own, in some cases, mild shocks have to be administered to achieve that.

Off-Pump Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

The difference between traditional CABG and off-pump CABG is that in the latter neither is the heart stopped, nor is a heart-lung bypass machine used. This is why off-pump coronary CABG is also known as beating heart bypass grafting.

Minimally Invasive Direct Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

This process is similar to the one mentioned above, however, the difference is that instead of once incision, several are done on the left side of the chest between the ribs. Such a surgery is done for bypassing the blood vessels which are located on the front side of the heart. This is a relatively new type of surgery and is not done for those patients who need more than two coronary arteries to be bypassed.

Risks Associated

There are barely any risks associated with CABG, however, some of these include –

  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Reactions to anesthesia
  • Wound infection and bleeding

If you notice any of these complications or more, you must contact your surgeon at the earliest.

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