Types of Heart Bypass Surgery

Types of Heart Bypass Surgery

Before the arrival of heart bypass surgery, most patients who were recovering from a heart attack were advised to be on bed rest. This lasted for weeks and disrupted the lives of many heart patients. Then, bypass surgery arrived that aimed to treat blocked arteries. Thus, improving the lives of many patients.  Today, due to significant research, several less invasive surgical techniques have enabled patients to recover quickly after bypass surgery.

If you have been recommended for bypass surgery for your blocked arteries, then you should discuss all possible options with your cardiac surgeon.

Here, we have discussed what is heart bypass surgery and the different options in it available for you:

What is Heart Bypass Surgery?

A heart bypass surgery or coronary artery bypass graft is used to tackle completely or partially blocked coronary arteries. Though it doesn’t exactly treat the underlying cause of a blocked artery like atherosclerosis, the surgery can improve the blood flow to the heart.

Blocked arteries can lead to issues like chest pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath. If left unattended, they can even increase the risk of a heart attack. A heart bypass surgery can prevent this from happening. It creates a different route around the blocked artery from where the blood can flow.

Different Surgical Techniques in Bypass Surgery

This is an open heart surgery in which a long incision of about 6-8 inches is made in the chest to access the heart. During this surgery, the cardiac surgeon stops the heart and redirects the blood to a heart-lung machine. This bypass machine overtakes the function of the lungs and heart during the surgery and the blood is circulated throughout the body. After the surgery is over, the blood supply through the heart is restored and the incisions are sutured.

This is a commonly used approach for resolving coronary artery disease. Since it is an invasive procedure, coronary artery bypass surgery can lead to complications like bleeding, infections, stroke, memory loss, and irregular heart rhythm.

Off-pump bypass surgery doesn’t use a heart-lung machine. This procedure was designed to overcome some of the drawbacks of an on-pump or traditional bypass surgery. The heart keeps on beating throughout the operation but the patient will be given medicines to slow the heart. Afterward, the surgeon will attach devices to the particular region of the heart that needs to be operated on.

Some studies have shown that high-risk patients benefit more from off-pump bypass surgery. Some of the benefits it offers are:

  • Takes less time than a traditional heart bypass surgery
  • It also reduces your chances of risks and complications like bleeding and stroke.
  • You will also have to stay in the hospital for a shorter time.

However, off-pump bypass surgery is technically complex and it may not always be possible to get hold of a cardiac surgeon who is skilled in performing it.

Keyhole bypass surgery is a minimally invasive surgery in which the cardiac surgeon will make small incisions of about 3-5 inches in the chest. Through these small incisions, the surgeon can then access your heart and perform the surgery.  When performed by an experienced cardiac surgeon at a well-equipped hospital, this surgery can lead to better results for the patient. You can expect faster recovery, lesser pain and lower risk of infection after the surgery. Many patients can also resume daily activities within days after a keyhole bypass surgery.

4. Robotically assisted bypass surgery

Robotically assisted bypass surgery is another type of minimally invasive bypass surgery. In this type of surgery, the cardiac surgeon uses robotic arms to perform
the procedure through very tiny incisions. An endoscope usually attached to the robotic arms helps the surgeon view the insides of the body while carrying out the surgery.

Sometimes your cardiologist will recommend coronary artery bypass graft surgery over angioplasty. But if the cardiac surgeon cannot perform the surgery in a minimally invasive manner then the two approaches will be combined. That is, some blockages will be stented and others will be bypassed. This hybrid approach can be performed without stopping your heart. It also leads to less scarring and fewer complications.

How to Choose the Best Bypass Surgery Option?

Getting bypass surgery is a serious decision that should not be taken in haste. If you wish to go for less invasive heart bypass surgery then you should discuss that option with your cardiac surgeon. It is important that you simply don’t rely on your cardiac surgeon and take an active part in deciding the best treatment for your health. This “ shared decision-making” can also improve the results of your procedure.

Some of the ways you can choose the best heart bypass surgery option for you all:

1. Discuss all possible options for bypass surgery with your cardiac surgeon. You can ask questions like:

  • Will I have an “off-pump” or an “on-pump” cardiac surgery?
  • Are there less invasive options in bypass surgery?
  • Am I eligible for minimally invasive bypass surgery?
  • How long will it take for me to recover after a heart bypass?
  • What is the risk of heart bypass surgery? What are the complications I may face?
  • What is the success rate of heart bypass surgery?

2. Weigh the pros and cons of each heart bypass surgery option

3. See if your insurance covers the procedures

4. Talk to your family and friends

5. Ensure that the hospital has all the facilities to support your treatment and recovery.


A traditional coronary artery bypass graft surgery is an open heart surgery that may not be a suitable choice for everyone. If you are someone who is looking to undergo bypass surgery you should talk to specialists who have extensive experience in performing bypass procedures. This will enable you to explore more options that can be better suited to you.

Getting a second opinion can also help to know the best treatment for your heart condition.

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Reviewed By :- Dr. Vijita Jayan

Urvi Agrawal

Urvi is an avid reader who is passionate about writing. Having worked in hospital settings like AIIMS, She has experience working as a healthcare writer and has written about many healthcare and medical topics. Besides her role as a content specialist, she likes to spend her time cooking, dancing, and painting. She believes that positive thinking is crucial for being happy.

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