Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery

If you have coronary artery disease (CAD), medications and lifestyle changes can manage your symptoms and help you stay healthy. But if the condition worsens, you may need heart surgery to help prevent a heart attack.

At the Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute, our skilled heart surgeons have expertise in a variety of coronary artery bypass graft surgery techniques. We work closely with you and your cardiologist or primary care provider to decide whether heart surgery may be right for you.

What is coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery?

Coronary artery disease reduces blood flow to your heart when fatty substances (plaque) build up inside arteries in the heart. Coronary artery bypass graft surgery, commonly known as bypass surgery, is a procedure to improve blood flow to your heart.

In CABG surgery, heart surgeons create new pathways for blood to bypass narrowed or blocked areas of heart arteries. Using a section of a blood vessel from elsewhere in your body, surgeons connect it to a heart artery above and below the blockage. The new pathway, called a graft, redirects blood flow to the heart.

Conditions treated with CABG surgery

CABG can treat:

  • CAD: CABG improves blood flow to the heart for people who have severe coronary artery disease. Heart surgeons can create multiple bypasses if you have more than one blocked or narrowed artery.
  • Heart attack: If left untreated, CAD can cause a heart attack if one or more arteries becomes completely blocked, cutting off blood flow to heart muscle. CABG can reduce the risk of heart attack or other serious cardiac event, such as sudden cardiac arrest. Heart surgeons can also perform CABG as emergency treatment for a severe heart attack.

If you have CAD that isn’t severe, your doctors may recommend other treatments such as healthy lifestyle habits, medications and catheter-based procedures. Read more about coronary artery disease and heart attacks and the nonsurgical treatment options we offer.

Team expertise in advanced heart surgery

At the Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute, our cardiothoracic surgeons have mastered the most advanced CABG techniques. Our heart surgery teams have advanced training and years of experience caring for people with severe heart disease, including CAD.

Doctors across southeast and south central Michigan trust their patients to us for our surgical skill and our ability to care for the most complex patients. In our dedicated cardiac intensive care unit (CICU), we offer the highest level of specialized care before, during and after surgery.

Your heart team carefully plans your surgery — a close collaboration that includes cardiac surgeons, anesthesiologists, advanced practice providers, imaging specialists and nurses. In some cases, we use cardiac CT with 3D reconstruction to create an exact model of the heart to plan surgery.

Types of CABG surgery

If you’re a candidate for CABG surgery, our heart surgeons evaluate you carefully to decide which technique may work best for you. We offer a variety of CABG techniques, including:

Traditional, open CABG surgery

In open-heart CABG surgery, your surgeon accesses the heart through a vertical incision in your chest. Medications temporarily stop your heart during the procedure to keep it still as surgeons attach the grafted blood vessels. A heart-lung bypass machine takes over the heart’s function, adding oxygen to your blood and pumping it through your body.

Open, off-pump CABG surgery

During this open surgery, your surgeon uses a special device to stabilize the area of your heart being operated on. Also called beating-heart bypass grafting, this technique doesn’t require stopping your heart or using a heart-lung bypass machine. Off-pump CABG can be safer for older people and those with other conditions that increase their risk of complications.

Robotic CABG surgery

Our surgeons may use robotic equipment with a minimally invasive approach for extra precision in complex cases. In these procedures, the surgeon makes a few small holes in the chest to insert specialized instruments and a camera, held by robotic arms that the surgeon controls. Learn more about robotic heart surgery.

Hybrid coronary revascularization

At Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, our heart surgeons partner with our interventional cardiologists in a hybrid procedure that combines CABG with angioplasty and stenting. Hybrid coronary revascularization treats people who have blockages in different heart arteries. A heart surgeon bypasses one blocked artery with minimally invasive CABG using robotic assistance.

During the same procedure, an interventional cardiologist performs cardiac catheterization for the angioplasty in another artery. The cardiologist guides a catheter (narrow tube with instruments) through a blood vessel to the heart. By inflating a tiny balloon inside the narrowed artery, the doctor widens the artery and places a stent (tiny mesh tube) to keep the area open.

Henry Ford has advanced surgical suites specially designed for hybrid cardiac procedures. Learn more about our hybrid operating room.

Your recovery after CABG surgery

After surgery, you begin your recovery in our cardiac intensive care unit (CICU), with care from a team of dedicated intensivists and their specialized support staff. Your post-surgery care includes follow-up visits with your cardiac surgeon and specialized cardiac rehab. Read more about heart surgery recovery.

Schedule a heart surgery consultation

Request an in-person or virtual appointment with a heart team member for evaluation. Our cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons work together to plan your treatment, including heart surgery options.

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