What are the Steps of a Bypass Surgery?


A blockage in the coronary arteries affects the blood flow to the heart and increases the risk of atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease. In such cases, the doctor may advise a coronary bypass surgery.

Bypass Surgery

Types of Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts

The graft for a coronary bypass surgery can be taken from:

  1. Internal thoracic arteries,
  2. Radial arteries, or
  3. Saphenous veins from the legs

Possible Complications

Like any other surgery, a coronary bypass can have a number of complications. The chances of developing complications depend on the patient’s overall health ad presence of any other diseases. This includes:

  1. Bleeding
  2. Infections
  3. Irregular heart rhythm
  4. Heart attacks and stroke
  5. Kidney problems
  6. Temporary memory loss

Preparing for the Procedure

Unless the procedure is conducted as an emergency, the patient will be hospitalized on the morning of the surgery. There are certain activity restrictions and dietary changes that the patients may be advised to follow. 

During the Procedure

Here’s what commonly happens during the procedure:

  1. This surgery can take 3 to 6 hours and is conducted while the patient is under general anesthesia. 
  2. The patient may need more than one bypass depending on how severe the blockages are and where they are in the heart. 
  3. Most coronary bypass surgeries are conducted as open-heart procedures. A heart-lung machine is used to pump blood and oxygen through the body while the heart is temporarily stopped. 
  4. The doctor will then take part in a healthy blood vessel and attach the end above and below the blockage to redirect blood flow. 
  5. Surgery may also be conducted as an off-pump or beating-heart surgery or minimally invasive surgery. 

After the Procedure

After the surgery, the breathing tube will stay in place in the patient’s throat until he/she is able to breathe on his/her own. The patient will need to stay in the ICU for a day or two. A cardiac rehabilitation program will be started while the patient is still in the hospital. As long as no complications occur, the patient should be discharged within a week. He/she will later need to follow monitored programs as an outpatient.


This surgery should relieve the blockage but in another 10-15 years, the grafts may become clogged as well. This means that the patient may need another bypass surgery or an angioplasty later. The chances of this happening depend on how regularly the patient takes his/her medication and his/her lifestyle. It is also very important for patients to get regular checkups.

Some ways to reduce the risk of a blockage occurring again include

  1. Quit smoking
  2. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  3. Maintain a healthy weight
  4. Exercise regularly
  5. Reduce exposure to stress

Although this surgery is not a cure for the heart disease that led to the blockage, it can help relieve the symptoms. For some people, it can also lead to improved heart functions and reduce the risk of dying due to heart disease.


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