Cardiovascular surgery, more commonly known as heart surgery, is used to treat a wide variety of heart disease. The most common type of heart surgery for adults is coronary artery bypass grafting or CABG (pronounced like the vegetable, cabbage!) Other surgeries include valve repair or replacement, pacemaker insertions and repair of damaged parts of the heart.
During a CABG surgery, a healthy artery or vein from the body (usually the leg) is connected to a blocked coronary (heart) artery. The grafted artery or vein bypasses the blocked portion and creates a new path for oxygen-rich blood to flow to the heart muscle.
Heart surgery, more often referred to open-heart surgery, is performed by opening the chest wall to operate. The surgeon cuts through part of the patient's breastbone to open the chest and expose the heart. Once the heart is exposed, the patient is connected to a bypass machine that takes over the heart's pumping action. This allows the surgeon to operate on a heart that isn't beating and doesn't have blood flowing through it. In some cases, the bypass machine is not necessary. This type of surgery is called “off-pump” and is usually restricted to CABG procedures. A third kind of heart surgery involves making small incisions between the ribs. This is called minimally invasive heart surgery because the breastbone is not opened. This form of surgery may or may not use a bypass machine. Off-pump and minimally invasive surgery may reduce risks and speed up recovery time.
Richard Toon, MD, FACS specializes in Thoracic Surgery at Kansas Physician Group. Learn more about his background.