How is bypass surgery performed?

Simply put, when bypass surgery is performed:

  • The patient is put to sleep with general anesthesia.
  • The surgeon exposes the heart surgically.
  • The surgeon harvests a piece of healthy blood vessel from the chest, arm or leg.
  • Connection to a heart-lung bypass machine allows the surgeon to stop the heartbeat while he or she works on the arteries. Or, the surgeon may use newer stabilizing devices to do the bypass on the beating heart.
  • The surgeon uses the harvested blood vessel to create bypass grafts around the narrowed or blocked parts of the arteries.
  • The surgeon then allows flow through the bypasses and closes the incisions.
  • The patient wakes up once the anesthesia wears off.