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Heart bypass surgery - minimally invasive

Heart bypass surgery creates a new route, called a bypass, for blood and oxygen to reach your heart.

Minimally invasive coronary (heart) artery bypass can be done without stopping the heart and putting a patient on a heart-lung machine.

A heart surgeon will make a 3- to 5-inch-long surgical cut in the left part of your chest between your ribs. This allows the surgeon to reach your heart. Muscles in the area will be pushed apart. A small part of the front of the rib, called the costal cartilage, will be removed. Then the surgeon will find and prepare an artery on your chest wall to attach to your coronary artery that is blocked.

Once the above steps are done, the surgeon will connect the prepared chest artery to the coronary artery that is blocked.

You will not need to be on a heart-lung machine for this surgery, but a device will be attached to your heart to stabilize it. You will receive medicine to slow the heart down.

Alternative Names

Minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass; MIDCAB; Robot assisted coronary artery bypass; RACAB; Keyhole heart surgery

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive coronary artery bypass if you have a blockage in one or two coronary arteries, usually in the front of the heart. When one or more of the coronary arteries become partly or totally blocked, your heart does not get enough blood. This is called ischemic heart disease or coronary artery disease. It can cause chest pain (angina ).

Your doctor may have first tried to treat you with medicines. You may have also tried cardiac rehabilitation or other treatments, such as angioplasty with stenting.

Coronary artery disease varies a lot from person to person, so the way it is diagnosed and treated varies. Heart bypass surgery is just one treatment. It is not right for everyone.

Surgeries or procedures that may be done instead of minimally invasive heart bypass are:

Risks

Ask your doctor about the risks of surgery. In general, the complications of minimally invasive coronary artery bypass are lower than with open coronary artery bypass surgery.

Risks for any surgery include:

  • Blood clots in the legs that may travel to the lungs
  • Blood loss
  • Breathing problems
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Infection of the lungs, urinary tract, and chest

Possible risks of coronary artery bypass include:

  • Memory loss, loss of mental clarity, or "fuzzy thinking" - less common in people who have minimally invasive coronary artery bypass than in people who have open coronary bypass
  • Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmia)
  • A chest wound infection - this is more likely to happen if you are obese, have diabetes, or have had coronary bypass surgery in the past
  • Low-grade fever and chest pain (together called postpericardiotomy syndrome), which can last up to 6 months
  • Pain at the site of the cut

Before the Procedure

Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs or herbs you bought without a prescription.

During the days before the surgery:

  • For the 2-week period before surgery you may be asked to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These might cause increased bleeding during the surgery. They include aspirin, ibuprofen (such as Advil and Motrin), naproxen (such as Aleve and Naprosyn), and other similar drugs. If you are taking clopidogrel (Plavix), ask your surgeon when you should stop taking it before surgery.
  • Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of the surgery.
  • If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your doctor for help.
  • Contact your doctor if you have a cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout, or any other illness.
  • Prepare your home so you can move around easily when you return from the hospital.

The day before your surgery:

  • Shower and shampoo well.
  • You may be asked to wash your whole body below your neck with a special soap. Scrub your chest 2 or 3 times with this soap.

On the day of the surgery:

  • You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes chewing gum and using breath mints. Rinse your mouth with water if it feels dry, but be careful not to swallow.
  • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.

Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After the Procedure

You may be able to leave the hospital 2 or 3 days after your surgery. You may also be able to return to normal activities after 2 or 3 weeks.

Outlook

Recovery from surgery takes time, and you may not see the full benefits of your surgery for 3 to 6 months. In most people who have heart bypass surgery, the grafts remain open and work well for many years.

This surgery does not prevent a blockage from coming back. However, you can do many things to slow it down. Not smoking, eating a heart-healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and treating high blood pressure, high blood sugar (if you have diabetes), and high cholesterol will all help.

You may be more likely to have problems with your blood vessels if you have kidney disease or some other medical problems.

References

Ferraris VA, Mentzer RM Jr. Acquired heart disease: coronary insufficiency. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 61.

Fraker TD Jr, Fihn SD, Gibbons RJ, Abrams J, Chatterjee K, Daley J, et al. 2007 chronic angina focused update of the ACC/AHA 2002 Guidelines for the management of patients with chronic stable angina: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines Writing Group to develop the focused update of the 2002 Guidelines for the management of patients with chronic stable angina. Circulation. 2007;116(23):2762-2772.

Møller CH, Perko MJ, Lund JT, et al. No major differences in 30-day outcomes in high-risk patients randomized to off-pump versus on-pump coronary bypass surgery: the best bypass surgery trial. Circulation. 2010 Feb 2;121(4):498-504. Epub 2010 Jan 18.

Thiele H, Neumann-Schniedewind P, Jacobs S, et al. Randomized comparison of minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass surgery versus sirolimus-eluting stenting in isolated proximal left anterior descending coronary artery stenosis. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2009 Jun 23;53(25):2324-31.

Updated: 5/14/2012

Shabir Bhimji MD, PhD, Specializing in Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Midland , TX Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


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