Coronary artery bypass grafting

Last updated: April 5, 2023

Summarytoggle arrow icon

Coronary artery bypass grafting (or CABG) is a cardiac revascularization technique used to treat patients with significant, symptomatic stenosis of the coronary artery (or its branches). The stenosed segment is bypassed using an arterial (e.g., internal thoracic artery) or venous (e.g., great saphenous vein) autograft, re-establishing blood flow to the ischemic areas of the myocardium. This may be performed either with the help of a heart-lung bypass machine (traditional CABG, performed via a thoracotomy), or on a beating heart (off-pump CABG, and minimally invasive direct CABG). In addition to general surgical risks, the main complications associated with bypass grafting are bypass occlusion and postpericardiotomy syndrome. The procedure provides more effective symptom relief than medical management and is superior to PCI in multivessel coronary disease.

Indicationstoggle arrow icon

Indication for CABG is established after careful consideration of the clinical features, coronary catheterization findings, cardiac function, and the patient's general condition.

Contraindicationstoggle arrow icon

There are no absolute contraindications for CABG. Relative contraindications include:

We list the most important contraindications. The selection is not exhaustive.

Procedure/applicationtoggle arrow icon

Postoperative long-term treatment with antiplatelet drugs (e.g., 100 mg aspirin 1-0-0) is required to reduce the risk of subsequent myocardial ischemia.

Complicationstoggle arrow icon

Cardiac complications

Mediastinal complications



We list the most important complications. The selection is not exhaustive.

Outcome and prognosistoggle arrow icon

  • Prognosis following CABG depends on a variety of factors, such as anatomical location and severity of the stenoses, presence of comorbidities, patient age, and preoperative levels of activity.
  • Successful grafts typically last 8–15 years and provide an improved chance of survival (decreased 5-year mortality, especially in patients with triple vessel disease).
  • Further progression of arteriosclerosis may still occur after CABG.

Referencestoggle arrow icon

  1. Shan L, Saxena A, Mcmahon R, Newcomb A. Coronary artery bypass graft surgery in the elderly: a review of postoperative quality of life. Circulation. 2013; 128 (21): p.2333-2343.doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.000729 . | Open in Read by QxMD
  2. Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG). Updated: February 1, 2016. Accessed: April 10, 2017.

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 Evidence-based content, created and peer-reviewed by physicians. Read the disclaimer