About Heart Bypass Surgery
Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), or colloquially, heart bypass, is a surgery performed for patients experiencing complications due to coronary artery disease (CAD). Every surgery has its risks, but, especially with the chest, patients may experience post surgery problems after heart bypass surgery. These complications can be for several different reasons. It is also important to realize that bypass surgery has a long recovery period, so complications are adverse reactions different from normal recovery.
It is important to know a little about a specific type of bypass surgery before worrying about complications following it. Traditional CABG surgery involves a six to eight-inch incision through the sternum, or breastbone, so that the surgeon has a clear path to the heart. The surgery is performed "on-pump", meaning that the heart is stopped, and circulation is facilitated by a heart-lung machine.
Another form of this surgery can be performed "off-pump"; the surgeon operates on the arteries of the heart while only a portion of the heart is stabilized. Patients with an increased risk of complications from using a heart-lung machine receive this type of surgery. These include those patients with "vascular disease, heavy plaque buildup in the aorta (aortic calcification), carotid artery stenosis (narrowing or blockage in the arteries leading to the brain), prior stroke or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), or breathing or kidney function problems," according to WebMD's website.
Recently, more and more bypass operations are being performed using minimally invasive techniques. These surgeries are performed through small incisions; generally, the largest is about three inches, but some incisions can be less than an inch in length. These surgeries have shown a wealth of benefits including shorter hospital stays and recovery periods, fewer post surgery complications and less pain for most patients.