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Coronary artery bypass grafting surgery

  • Your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. When the arteries, which carry blood to the heart muscle, become blocked with plaque (fatty deposits), your doctor may want you to have a type of heart surgery called coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery.

    CABG surgery is done when plaque blocks the coronary artery. Blood stops flowing through the vessels which feed the heart muscle.

    During bypass surgery, your surgeon will take a blood vessel, usually from your leg and/or chest wall, and use it to make another path for blood around your blocked artery to the heart muscle. By bypassing the blockage, blood is able to flow to your heart muscle.

    Sometimes, more than one artery needs to be bypassed. When this is done, you may hear the surgery called a double-, triple- or quadruple-bypass surgery.

    During heart surgery

    During heart surgery, you will be connected to a heart-lung machine.

    • The "lung" portion of the machine supplies oxygen to your blood.
    • The "heart" portion of the machine pumps blood throughout your body.

    After heart surgery

    After surgery, it's not unusual to hear popping and clicking in your chest, though it can be unsettling. This is part of the healing process as your bones and cartilage heal from surgery.

    It's very important to follow your doctor's instructions about arm movements and lifting so that your body heals properly.

    If you feel grating of the sternum in the middle of your chest, call your surgeon.