What is Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting or CABG?
It is a surgery done to bypass the blocks in the blood vessels of your heart. These blocks occur commonly due to a disease called Atherosclerosis.
What is Atherosclerosis?
It is a disease wherein fat gets deposited within the walls of a blood vessel forming what is called a “Plaque”. This plaque protrudes into the blood vessel obstructing blood flow to the heart.
Who needs CABG?
Your doctor has tried medications, and you may have had one or more angioplasties. If you are still having trouble, or if your blocks are not suitable for Angioplasty, you are a candidate for CABG.
How is CABG done?
CABG involves taking a blood vessel from another part of the body, usually the chest (Internalmammary artery – the LIMA and RIMA), leg (Vein), or arm(Radial artery) and attaching it to the coronary artery below the narrowed area or blockage. This new blood vessel is known as a graft, which bypasses the block and provides a new route for blood flow. You may need one or more bypasses.
Coronary artery bypass surgery generally takes three to six hours, depending on how many bypasses are needed.
Illustration of CABG
- Coronary artery
What is beating heart CABG?
Traditionally CABG is performed with the heart and lung being stopped, after entrusting their function to a machine called Heart-Lung machine. Currently the preferred technique is called Beating heart surgery, which though technically more demanding, is preferable. This is because it gets over faster, your stay in the hospital is shorter and the problems are less.
What is Minimal Access CABG?
Till recently CABG was performed by cutting open the entire breastbone to reach the heart. After the operation the breastbone is fixed with steel wires. In Minimal access CABG the breast bone is not cut. The operation is done through small openings on the side of the chest, using specialized instruments. The pain is very less and recovery is even faster. You may go home and get back to work earlier.
How is life after CABG?
You may go home by 5 days to one week. By the time you are discharged you will be totally ambulatory and will be able to take care of yourself. You will be taught a set of graded exercises which you will have to strictly follow. You will also be put on few medications which you will have to take without fail. You will also be advised on the changes you need to make in your lifestyle, like:
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly
- Try to lose weight (if you are overweight or obese).
- Control Diabetes and Hypertension (if you have them).
- Quit smoking (if you smoke).
You can lead a normal life and continue to work after CABG. You can drive and travel as usual.