At St. Joseph’s, the Cardiovascular Interventional Center (CVIC) cares for patients who show signs and symptoms of a heart attack. At the CVIC, a team of professionals perform a test called a coronary angiogram. During this test, a dye is injected. The dye lets your cardiologist see the arteries and blood flow in your heart.
If a coronary angioplasty and placement of a stent are not possible, your cardiologist will have a heart surgeon talk to you about the need for open-heart surgery.
Open-heart surgery for coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is performed to restore healthy circulation. A portion of a vein from your leg (vein graft) and/or an artery from your chest or arm is used to send blood around a narrowed segment of an artery in the heart. When necessary, several arteries in the heart can be bypassed with grafting during a single operation.
Go here to see an image of a coronary artery bypass
When a vein is taken from your leg to use for one or more bypass grafts, a new technique called endoscopic vein harvesting is used. In the past, removing a vein from the leg required a long incision down the entire leg or multiple incisions along the length of the vein. With this less invasive procedure, the surgeon removes the vein through one incision above or below the knee and another incision at the thigh or ankle area with the aid of a special video camera, or endoscope.
The benefits of endoscopic vein harvesting go beyond avoiding multiple leg scars. Endoscopic vein harvesting is less likely to lead to leg infections. People who may not be candidates for endoscopic vein harvesting are those who have varicose veins, blood circulation problems or blood clots in the legs.
To eliminate the need for blood transfusions, we offer a "bloodless" heart surgery program. This unique program conserves blood during heart surgery and can help reduce complications and length of stay in the hospital. Learn more about bloodless surgery.
This surgery is usually extremely successful, even when the surgery involves several grafts.
Even patients who are elderly, or who have diabetes or extensive heart disease can experience good outcomes and better quality of life. More than 95% of patients experience relief from chest pain (called angina) after the procedure.
Go here to learn more about what to expect during open-heart surgery.