Bypass surgery is done to restore the blood flow to the heart when an artery is blocked. During the surgery, blood flow is made possible through a new vein or artery that is grafted around the area which is diseased.
These surgeries may require two to four blood vessels taken from another part of the body and the use of a heart-lung bypass machine to circulate blood and oxygen.
Heart is the centre for blood supply for the body. Blood for the heart is supplied by a series of blood vessels called coronary arteries. There are instances where arteries are blocked, restricting the supply of oxygen and blood to the heart muscle.
“When a coronary heart disease is diagnosed, the patient is advised to bring about a series of changes in his lifestyle like quitting smoking, diet changes, exercises etc. But life-threatening situations demand immediate bypass surgery,” says Dr T M Jaison, MBBS, MD, DM, Specialist Cardiologist, DM Healthcare. Bypass surgery is usually performed if the blockage in the heart is not accessible because of the location or extent of blockage. In other cases, where it is easier to locate the blockage, simpler procedures like angioplasty with or without stenting are done.
“The most likely areas of the body from where arteries could be removed for grafting during the process of a bypass surgery could be from the forearm or chest area. In case of a vein removed from leg, one end will be connected to the aorta and the other end to the damaged artery just past the blocked area. An artery from the chest wall may be detached and reattached to the coronary artery, whereas in case of removal of artery from the forearm, a portion of radical artery may be used”, Dr Jaison says.
A patient is shifted to the ICU after a bypass surgery. In the ICU the patient is likely to be on a 24-hour observation if there are no complications. The patient needs to spend 3 to 8 days in hospital after the surgery.
Complete recovery may take 4 to 6 weeks, normal activities like exercising and driving can be resumed after 2 to 3 weeks though. If the work does not involve rigorous physical activity, a person may be able to return to work after a month or two.