How is heart bypass surgery performed?
The way heart bypass surgery is performed depends upon the process your surgeon chooses to use. Most heart bypass surgery is open heart surgery. During open-heart surgery, the surgeon makes an incision in the center of the chest and attaches
a heart-lung machine to divert blood away from your heart, but help keep it flowing to the rest of your body. After that, the ribcage is spread so the surgeon can access your heart. Once your chest is fully open, your surgeon stops your heart temporarily
and the heart-lung machine takes over pumping the blood. This is called on-pump coronary bypass surgery. Once the heart-lung machine is going, the surgeon removes a section of a healthy blood vessels from somewhere else in the body (often the chest
wall or the lower leg) and attaches one end above the artery blockage and the other end above the blockage. This allows the blood to flow around the blockage so it can still nourish your heart muscle.
Off-pump heart bypass surgery, otherwise known as beating-heart surgery, allows the surgeon to perform the bypass on a beating heart without attaching the heart-lung machine. Because the heart continues to move (beat) during the procedure,
it is more difficult than on-pump heart bypass surgery.
Some surgeons also perform minimally invasive heart bypass surgery. The surgeon makes a small incision in the chest and may use a robot and video images to operate on the heart. There are a few variations of this type of surgery.
On-pump open-heart bypass surgery is the most common type of heart bypass surgery; however, as technologies improve and more surgeons are trained in minimally invasive and robotic techniques, those types of surgery are on the rise.
Minimally invasive vs. open heart
There are risks and benefits to both minimally invasive and open-heart bypass surgery. Typically, the less invasive a surgery is, the faster the recovery period will be and the less pain, scarring and bleeding are experienced.
Learn more about Beaumont's Advancements in Heart Surgery and Recovery
Most people make a complete recovery after heart bypass surgery. It is a long recovery process, but with proper care, it can be successful. You will likely stay in the hospital for about a week – several days in the ICU and then a few more days
in another part of the hospital. Once you return home, you will have strict limitations for a couple weeks, but the limitations will be reduced over time. Within six to eight weeks, you should be able to do most of the things you were doing before
you had surgery.
Learn more about what to expect for recovery after heart bypass surgery
Survival rates vary from hospital to hospital. They also vary based on the age and other factors. For example, the mortality rate after bypass surgery according to the national Medicare Experience shows that the 30-day survival rate was more than 95 percent
for people ages 65 to 69 and about 89.4 percent for people 80 years and older. In another study of almost 10,000 heart surgery recipients, more than 90 percent of patients were still alive after five years.
There are many organizations that track survival rate for different heart procedures. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services track outcomes for all hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement for a few procedures, including heart
Before you decide where to have your surgery, you can research the outcomes of your hospital, and you may be able to get data specific to your surgeon as well.
Most people’s risk of complications during or after a planned heart bypass surgery is low. Your surgeon will take steps to reduce the risk of complications, but there are some possible complications during and after the procedure. Some of the more
common complications are:
- Stroke or heart attack
- Kidney dysfunction
- Memory loss or difficulty thinking clearly
If you have emergency heart bypass surgery or you have additional health conditions, your risk of complications may be higher than normal. Talk to your surgeon about what your specific risks are. If the risks outweigh the potential benefits, you and your
doctor may decide surgery isn’t the best option right now.
Types of doctors that perform heart bypass surgery
The doctors who perform heart bypass surgery include heart surgeons, interventional cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and cardiovascular surgeons.
The Beaumont difference
Beaumont is a world leader in heart innovation. Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak has been ranked as one of the top cardiac and heart surgery programs in the nation for 22 consecutive years. Our heart and vascular teams provide the most advanced treatment
options, including minimally invasive heart surgery. We have specialized heart care centers throughout Metro Detroit that offer technologies to care for even the sickest patients.
Our heart surgeons will work with you and your family to ensure you get the care you need from a multidisciplinary team of experts.
Start your search at Beaumont. Find a Beaumont heart surgeon, interventional cardiologist, cardiothoracic surgeon, or cardiovascular surgeon near you.