Coronary artery bypass surgery

Coronary artery bypass surgery is a surgical procedure done to improve blood flow to the heart. This procedure involves the surgeon using blood vessels from another area of your body to bypass the damaged arteries.

When is coronary artery bypass surgery done?

Coronary artery bypass surgery is done when the coronary or heart arteries are blocked or damaged. Coronary arteries are responsible for supplying your heart with oxygenated blood, therefore, if the arteries are blocked, or blood flow is somehow restricted, your heart won't be able to function properly, which may lead to heart failure. Coronary bypass surgery may be done as an emergency procedure in situations such as heart attack and when you are not responding too well to other treatments.

There are different types of coronary artery bypass surgeries, and depending on how many arteries are blocked or damaged; Dr Dongo may recommend one of the following:

  • Single bypass – this procedure is done when there is only one artery that is blocked.
  • Double bypass – this is done when there are two arteries blocked.
  • Triple bypass – this is done when there are three arteries blocked.
  • Quadruple bypass – this is done when there are four arteries blocked.

The risk of having heart failure, a heart attack, or another cardiac issue depends entirely on the number of blocked arteries.

What does surgery entail?

Coronary bypass surgery takes approximately 3 – 6 hours and is done under general anaesthesia. During the procedure, the surgeon will insert a breathing tube in your mouth and will attach it to a ventilator to help you breathe during and after surgery.

Dr Dongo will then make an incision at the centre of your chest, along the breastbone. He will proceed by opening the rib cage to expose the heart and temporarily stop the organ with the use of medication. A heart and lung machine is then used to circulate the blood in your body. The surgeon will take a portion of a healthy blood vessel from inside the chest wall or from the lower leg and then attach it to the ends of the blocked artery. This will then redirect the blood flow around the narrowed part of the damaged artery.

After completing the graft, your heartbeat will be restored and disconnected from the heart and lung machine. The surgeon will use surgical wires to close your chest bone until it heals. This procedure may also be done as a minimally invasive surgery, where the surgeon makes small incisions in your chest and uses imaging tools to help guide the surgery.


A cardiothoracic surgeon is a specialist medical doctor who performs operations on the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. Dr Lehlohonolo Dongo's Qualifications.


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