Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting


Coronary artery bypass grafting is a type of open-heart surgery. It’s often referred to as CABG, pronounced “cabbage.”

It’s performed when one of your coronary arteries, the main blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle, gets blocked due to a health issue like coronary artery disease. During the procedure, your surgeon creates a new pathway around the blocked artery.


Before your surgery, your doctor may request lab and pre-operative tests including an ultrasound, X-rays or cardiac catheterization.

What to Expect

Right before your bypass, you’ll be given an IV to deliver antibiotics and anesthesia, so you won’t feel any pain. You’ll also have a bladder catheter and a breathing tube attached to a ventilator (breathing machine), and you’ll be connected to a heart-lung bypass machine.

Your surgeon will make an incision down the middle of your breastbone, about 7 to 8 inches long. To create the bypass, he or she will remove a portion of the large artery behind your breastbone and/or part of a leg vein and attach (graft) these to your coronary artery above and below the blockage. This creates a new pathway that lets blood flow normally to your heart again. Your surgeon can create more than one bypass if necessary during your operation.

Your surgeon will reposition your breastbone using metal wires and close your incision with sutures and, in some cases, staples. You’ll have drainage tubes in your chest for a short time, along with a temporary pacemaker. In most cases, your surgery will take 3 to 5 hours.


You’ll recover in Aurora’s intensive care unit (ICU). Your team will closely monitor your blood pressure, oxygen levels, temperature and heart rhythm and adjust your medication as necessary.

A few days after surgery, your doctor will remove your chest drainage tubes and temporary pacing wires. Most people leave the hospital after 4 to 6 days.


To learn more, read about cardiovascular disease prevention.

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