Heart bypass surgery begins with an incision made in the chest, with the breastbone cut exposing the heart. Next, a portion of the saphenous vein is harvested from the inside of the leg. Pieces of this great vein will be used to bypass the blocked arteries in the heart. The venous graft is sewn to the aorta and to the affected coronary artery past the blocked site. The internal mammary artery from the chest may also be used to bypass a clogged artery. Several arteries may be bypassed depending on the condition of the heart.
Review Date 2/11/2020
Updated by: Todd Campbell, MD, FACS, Clinical Assistant Professor Department of Surgery, Volunteer Faculty, Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, NJ; Medical Director, Independence Blue Cross. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.