Table of contents:
- What is the heart bypass used for
- How the surgery is performed
- What is recovery like
- Risks of heart bypass
Saphenous bypass, also known as cardiac bypass or coronary artery bypass grafting, is a type of heart surgery in which a piece of the saphenous vein in the leg is placed in the heart to carry blood from the aorta to the heart muscle.
This type of surgery is performed when there is an obstruction by fatty plaques in the heart vessels, which are the coronary vessels, which does not improve with other types of treatment and, therefore, increases the risk of serious complications such as the heart attack.
What is the heart bypass used for
The heart is the vital organ that pumps blood throughout the body, allowing the blood in the lungs to oxygenate and supplying all cells elsewhere in the body.However, to function properly, the heart also needs to supply its own muscle with oxygen-rich blood, which enters the aorta through the heart muscle vessels, also known as the coronary arteries.
When these coronary arteries are obstructed, due to the presence of fat on the walls of the vessels, for example, blood passes in less quantity to the muscle and, therefore, there is a decrease in the amount of oxygen that reaches these cells muscle. When this happens, the heart loses part of its ability to pump blood through the body, causing symptoms such as feeling short of breath, easily tired and even fainting.
Furthermore, if the blood stops flowing completely, the heart muscle goes into cell death and a heart attack occurs, which can be life-threatening.
Thus, to avoid this serious type of complications, the cardiologist may advise performing a bypass surgery, which consists of taking a piece of the saphenous vein of the leg and making a "bridge" between the aorta artery and the site just after the coronary artery obstruction.In this way, blood can continue to circulate through the heart muscle and the heart maintains its normal functioning.
How the surgery is performed
The bypass surgery is delicate and lasts an average of 5 hours. The steps of bypass surgery are:
- General anesthesia requiring a tube in the trachea to facilitate breathing;
- Removal of part of the saphenous vein, in the leg;
- The chest is cut to gain access to the heart arteries;
- The doctor examines the clogged arteries, defining the places to make the bridges;
- The saphenous vein is sewn in place;
- The chest is closed, with special sutures to approximate the sternum;
At the end of surgery, the tube in the trachea is maintained for the first few hours of recovery.
Does the surgery impair circulation in the legs?
Although a part of the saphenous vein is removed from the leg, normally, there is no complication for the circulation of the legs, since the blood can continue circulating through other veins. Furthermore, after removing a part of the vein, a completely natural process known as revascularization takes place, in which new vessels form to supply the body's needs and replace the removed part of the saphenous vein.
Although the saphenous bypass is almost always the first option for revascularization of the heart, there are other vessels in the body that can be used for this purpose, especially the mammary arteries, which are vessels located in the chest. When this happens, the surgery may be known as a "breast bridge".
What is recovery like
After the surgery, the patient needs to stay in an ICU for 2 to 3 days, to make constant assessments of vital signs and rule out possible complications of the surgery.After being considered stable, he may be transferred to a hospital room, where he will continue to take painkillers to avoid pain and possible discomfort in the chest. At this stage, physical therapy should be started through light exercises, walking and breathing exercises.
Recovery from this surgery is a little slow and only after about 90 days will the person be able to return to their daily routine.
In the postoperative period, usually 2 days after the surgery, the scar no longer needs dressings, it is just important to keep it clean and free of secretions. Until 4 weeks after the surgery, you should not drive or carry a weight of more than 10 kg.
It is important to take the medications recommended by the cardiologist and attend the postoperative appointment scheduled at the hospital. In addition, after recovery, it is important to follow a he althy lifestyle, with a balanced diet and regular physical activities, to ensure a good functioning of the heart and avoid new obstructions in the coronary circulation.See the steps to keep your heart he althy.
Risks of heart bypass
As it is a long and complex surgery, as it is necessary to open the chest and interfere with the functioning of the heart, bypass surgery has some risks, such as:
However, these complications are more frequent in people who already have compromised he alth, with kidney failure, other heart conditions, or when surgery is performed urgently.
However, the risks are minimized when the patient respects all medical guidelines that may include control of food and the use or suspension of certain medications before surgery and, in addition, the benefits of surgery usually outweigh the risk of having a heart attack and harming your he alth even more.