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Search Health Information    Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery for Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery for Coronary Artery Disease

A coronary artery is blocked

Picture of blockage in the coronary arteries
slide 1 of 5
    

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery reroutes blood around blocked arteries, increasing blood flow to the heart muscle tissue.

The sternum is cut

Picture of a vertical incision in the chest
slide 2 of 5
    

The surgeon makes a vertical incision in the skin and muscle in the middle of the chest and then cuts through the breastbone (sternum).

The heart is exposed

Picture of the surgical site exposed with a rib-spreader
slide 3 of 5
    

The surgeon spreads the rib cage with a retractor to expose the heart and then cuts through the lining that protects the heart (pericardium).

Blood flow is rerouted

Picture of blood vessels that can be used to reroute blood flow
slide 4 of 5
    

To reroute blood flow around the diseased blood vessel, surgeons typically use a portion of the saphenous vein in the leg or an internal mammary artery.

Oxygen-rich blood flows to heart muscle

Picture of normalized blood flow rerouted around blocked coronary artery
slide 5 of 5
    

Regardless of which type of blood vessel is used, oxygen-rich blood from the aorta is rerouted around the blocked section of the coronary artery to feed the heart muscle.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Last Revised April 5, 2012

Last Revised: April 5, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology

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