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 4/13/2015
Updated by: Dale Mueller, MD, cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, HeartCare Midwest; Chairman Department of Cardiovascular Medicine and Surgery, OSF St. Francis Medical Center; and Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Illinois, Peoria, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.