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If one or more of your coronary arteries (the vessels that carry blood to your heart muscle) are blocked, blood cannot flow to your heart. This blockage puts you at risk of a heart attack.

Coronary bypass surgery is an open heart surgery that restores blood flow to your heart muscle by diverting the flow of blood around the blockage.

At Dignity Health, we have some of the most experienced cardiac surgeons in the nation with competitive expertise in performing coronary bypass surgery.

What to Expect During Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

If your doctor has recommended coronary artery bypass surgery, here are some things you can expect during the surgery: 

  • First, your surgeon will remove a healthy blood vessel (graft) from another part of your body. If you have more than one blockage, you may need more than one graft.
  • While one member of the bypass surgery team is obtaining the graft, another member will work on reaching your heart. First, your surgeon will make an incision on your chest. Then your breastbone (sternum) will be pulled apart. The breastbone is held open throughout the surgery. This puts pressure on the nerves of the chest. This is why you may have soreness and muscle spasms in your chest, shoulders, and back during recovery.
  • Your doctor will make a small opening in the coronary artery, located below the blockage.
  • Once the graft has been sewn to the aorta, blood will start flowing through this new pathway to bypass the blockage. If you have multiple blockages, more than one bypass may be done.
  • Lastly, your breastbone will be rejoined with wires. These wires will stay in your chest permanently.
  • Your doctor will close the incision.
  • You will be taken to the intensive care unit to begin your recovery.
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery can be done with the heart still beating (off pump) or with the heart still (on pump.) Your surgery team can tell you more about which type of procedure you will have.

At Dignity Health, our expert cardiac surgeons will take the time to develop a personalized treatment plan for you, should you need coronary bypass surgery. 

Learn More

For more information, please view our Cardiac Surgery page, or call us to Find a Doctor.