Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common form of heart disease – affecting nearly 20 million adults (ages 20 and older). Oftentimes, in the early stages of coronary artery disease, there won’t be any noticeable signs or symptoms, allowing the disease to progress undetected until it has reached a more advanced stage.

CAD occurs when a fatty substance, plaque, builds up in the arteries that supply the heart with blood. Overtime, this plaque can narrow and stiffen the arteries, limiting blood flow to the heart and making a blockage (heart attack) more likely. When this plaque is extensive and/or it affects multiple vessels, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is one of the most thorough and trusted forms of treatment.

With decades of experience, the cardiothoracic surgeons of Northeast Georgia Physicians Group perform hundreds of CABG procedures every year. Providing surgical services at Georgia Heart Institute, our surgeons bring extensive knowledge and understanding of advanced, multi-vessel CAD and overall disease pathology, which is extremely important when performing CABG procedures requiring extremely precise and skilled technique.

What is CABG?

This procedure is an open surgery that is performed to treat one or multiple narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. By utilizing minimally-invasive techniques, a healthy blood vessel from the leg and/or the chest is used to create a graft. By connecting it before and after the damaged or blocked portion of the artery, a new pathway is created to restore blood to flow to the heart muscle.

Performing an open CABG procedure is still the most common and most preferred approach. This means that as a part of the surgery, a sternotomy (an incision through the sternum/breastbone) will be carefully performed to provide the surgeon direct and clear access to the heart and coronary arteries.

As a part of the CABG procedure, patients will go on cardiopulmonary bypass. This means that a heart-lung machine will be used to circulate oxygenated blood throughout the body while the heart is stopped for the procedure. This is done to ensure accuracy and efficiency of the procedure, while also minimizing blood loss.

Why choose Georgia Heart Institute for CABG?

First and foremost, the clinical quality of CABG procedures performed at Georgia Heart Institute is excellent. This is especially crucial when it comes to the complexity and seriousness of advanced cardiac conditions, like multi-vessel, symptomatic CAD.

When compared to national benchmarks and quality metrics established by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, which is considered the gold standard for data and quality of cardiothoracic surgery, our surgeons consistently achieve outstanding results in clinical care. This means that our patients experience fewer complications, have better outcomes and are discharged sooner than other hospitals across the country.

This dedication to quality care extends beyond the cardiothoracic surgeons that lead the program to encompass a team of highly-trained advanced practice providers, nurses, surgical technologists and multi-disciplinary expertise from imaging, cardiology, intensive care and cardiac rehab. This collaboration at every step of the care journey ensures the best possible experience for patients, while ensuring positive long-term outcomes.


Who is a candidate for a CABG procedure?

There are a variety of factors that are considered in the treatment of CAD and whether a CABG procedure is the best option. In addition to the overall health of the patient and their medical history, the surgeon will carefully evaluate key characteristics of the disease, including:

  • Whether it’s causing symptoms that interfere with/affect quality of life
  • The degree of damage/blockage in the artery
  • The location of the plaque build-up and which artery is affected
  • The presence of other cardiovascular damage/disease
What risks are associated with CABG?

As with any procedure, there are risks associated with the procedure itself and the recovery. The risk of complications for CABG procedures at Georgia Heart Institute, is lower than the national benchmark. Plus, our cardiothoracic surgical team is extremely attuned to the risks and possible complications during and following a CABG procedure, so they take proactive and preventative measures to minimize risk. For CABG, possible risks include:

  • Bleeding (during and after surgery)
  • Blood clots (stroke/heart attack)
  • Infection of the incision site
  • Pneumonia
  • Breathing problems (short-term and long-term)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities
  • Graft failure
What should I expect after the procedure?

Following a CABG procedure, you will be taken to our state-of-the-art cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU), the Ronnie Green Heart Center. There you will be closely monitored by a dedicated team of specialists to ensure a safe and steady recovery.

At first, you will likely be on a ventilator to allow the body to heal and to support breathing during the early stages of recovery, but you will then transition to self-sustained breathing. During this time, you may also notice chest discomfort and soreness, which is normal following surgery. Our cardiothoracic surgical and recovery teams will help to provide guidance and support on how to perform breathing exercises that ease pain and minimize risk of pneumonia.

As you continue to heal, you will receive medications, therapies and assistance to support your recovery. In addition to the CVICU, you will receive care in the Cardiac Care Unit and from the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation team, all to keep you progressing through each stage of post-surgical recovery and to get you back home.

Next Steps

To learn more about CABG procedures at Georgia Heart Institute, or to connect with our Cardiothoracic Surgery Program, please call 770-219-7099.

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