Coronary Artery Bypass Graft surgery is commonly shortened to CABG and pronounced as ‘Cabbage’ for short. It is also known as ‘by-pass’ or ‘by-pass surgery’ or ‘bypass operation’.
This is a big operation where patients need to be fully anaesthetized (‘fully asleep’). The chest bone (breast bone) is then split with a saw and the heart is exposed. A long vein from the leg is carefully removed. Sometimes an artery from the forearm may also be removed. One end of this ‘harvested’ vessel is then joined to the narrowed heart artery at a point beyond the narrowing.
The other end is joined to the large artery leaving the heart called ‘aorta’. In this way, blood rich in oxygen leaving the heart can travel down this newly implanted vessel and be diverted to the heart. Therefore, the narrowed diseased portion of the artery is ‘by-passed’. The breastbone is then sewn up with wires and the skin closed. Patients usually need to stay in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for about 2-3 days and then another 4-5 days on the ward before discharge.