When your arteries cannot supply enough blood to your heart, your doctor may recommend coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. CABG surgery restores blood flow to your heart.
Beating heart bypass surgery is – in simple terms – bypass surgery that is performed on your heart while it is beating. Your heart will not be stopped during surgery. You will not need a heart-lung machine. Your heart and lungs will continue to perform during your surgery.
Surgeons use a tissue stablisation system to immobilise the area of the heart where they need to work.
Beating heart bypass surgery is also called off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery (OPCAB). Both OPCAB and conventional on-pump surgery restore blood flow to the heart. However, off-pump bypass surgery may reduce side effects in certain types of patients.
First, your surgeon removes a section of a healthy vein or artery from an area of your body. This is called a graft. The surgeon attaches one end of the graft to an area of the heart above the blockage in your artery. The other end is attached to an area of your coronary artery below the blockage. Once the graft is attached, blood flow to your heart is restored.
Detail - Two types of graft bypasses
The challenge in beating heart CABG surgery is that it can be difficult to suture or "sew" on a beating heart. The surgeon must use a "stabilisation" system to keep the heart steady.
The stabilisation system consists of a heart positioner and a tissue stabiliser. The heart positioner guides and holds the heart in a position that provides the best access to the blocked arteries. The tissue stabiliser holds a small area of the heart still while a surgeon works on it.
Heart positioners are designed to position and to hold the heart to give the surgeon easy access to the blocked vessel requiring the bypass graft. Tissue stabilisers limit the motion of a small area of the heart while the rest of the heart continues to beat normally. This allows the surgeon to perform CABG surgery without stopping your heart and without using the heart-lung machine.
More than 70%1 of all bypass surgeries are performed on a stopped heart. Unlike beating heart surgery, during conventional on-pump heart bypass, medication is used to stop your heart.
A heart-lung machine takes over the function of your heart and lungs during the surgery. The heart-lung machine is also called a cardiopulmonary bypass machine. It has a pump to function as the heart and a membrane oxygenator to function as the lungs.
This mechanical "heart and lungs" keeps oxygen-rich blood circulating throughout your body. The heart-lung machine collects the blood. Carbon dioxide and other waste products are removed. The oxygenator adds oxygen, and the oxygenator's heat exchanger warms (or cools) the blood. The blood is gently circulated back through the body. This process is called perfusion. The person who operates the heart-lung machine is the perfusionist.
Your heart will usually be stopped for about 30-90 minutes of the 3-6 hour surgery. The heart-lung machine makes it possible for the surgeon to work on a still heart. This technique has been used for many years. Once the surgery is over, the surgeon and perfusionist restart your heart.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.