Heart Bypass Surgery

Heart bypass surgery is a serious procedure but is often a successful treatment option for patients with heart disease. Surgeons at MaineHealth are experienced in the most advanced techniques for heart bypass surgery and aim to deliver the highest standard of care for heart disease.

What is heart bypass surgery?

Heart bypass surgery, also known as coronary bypass surgery, creates a new path for blood and oxygen to go around a blockage to reach your heart. Coronary artery bypass surgery can be used to improve blood flow to your heart. Bypass surgery treats symptoms of coronary heart disease, which develops when plaque builds up inside the arteries in your heart and prevents blood and oxygen from reaching it. Symptoms of coronary heart disease include:

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath

Heart Bypass Surgery Types

There are several types of heart bypass surgery. Your doctor will recommend the best option for you based on your needs.

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG)

Traditional coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is recommended when at least one major artery needs to be bypassed. During the surgery, the chest bone is opened to access the heart. Medicines are given to stop the heart; a heart-lung bypass machine keeps blood and oxygen moving throughout the body during surgery. This allows the surgeon to operate on a still heart. 

During a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) procedure, a healthy artery or vein from the body is connected, or grafted, to the blocked coronary artery. The grafted artery or vein bypasses (goes around) the blocked portion of the coronary artery. This creates a new path for oxygen-rich blood to flow to the heart muscle. Surgeons can bypass multiple coronary arteries during one surgery.

After surgery, blood flow to the heart is restored. Usually, the heart starts beating again on its own. Sometimes mild electric shocks are used to restart the heart.

 

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Off-Pump Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG)

This type of CABG is similar to traditional CABG because the chest bone is opened to access the heart. However, the heart isn't stopped, and a heart-lung bypass machine isn't used. Off-pump CABG sometimes is called beating heart bypass grafting.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Minimally Invasive Direct Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

This type of surgery differs from traditional CABG because the chest bone isn't opened to reach the heart. Instead, several small cuts are made on the left side of the chest between the ribs. This type of surgery mainly is used to bypass blood vessels at the front of the heart. Minimally invasive bypass grafting is a fairly new procedure. It isn't right for everyone, especially if more than one or two coronary arteries need to be bypassed.

 

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Next Steps for Patients

While some patients are candidates for self-referral to our cardiovascular specialists, we recommend that you ask your primary care physician for help with the process. Find a Provider

Provider Referrals

If you are a provider who would like to refer a patient for MaineHealth coronary services, please review our clinical guidelines and call 207-773-8161. Clinical Guidelines

MaineHealth Cardiovascular Programs: