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A Patient's Guide to Heart Surgery

Conventional Heart Bypass Surgery

How is conventional heart bypass surgery performed?

Conventional heart bypass surgery is performed on a stopped heart through a 10"-12" incision down the middle of the chest". Patients are placed on cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), or a heart-lung machine. The heart-lung machine functions as the patient's heart and lungs during the operation.

A heart-lung machine circulates the blood if the heart is stopped.

What are the risks associated with conventional heart bypass surgery?

Many surgeons consider the heart-lung machine to be the most "invasive" component of conventional bypass surgery. Patients who are placed on the heart-lung machine are more likely to experience complications after surgery than patients who have beating-heart bypass surgery. Complications of the heart-lung machine can include stroke, seizures, multiple organ dysfunction, and compromised immunity. Frequently, patients who have conventional bypass surgery also require more blood transfusions and longer hospital stays.

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