Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

Severe narrowing or “stenosis” of the left anterior descending artery (LAD)

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease. Coronary artery disease occurs when cholesterol deposits called plaque build-up on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. As these walls get thicker with deposits, the inside of the arteries become narrower.

Over time, less and less blood can flow through the arteries. Sometimes, they become completely blocked. This process, called atherosclerosis, can lead to heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia or heart failure.

If you are at high risk for heart disease or already have symptoms, your cardiologist at Virginia Mason has several tests available to screen for and diagnose coronary artery disease. Learn more about coronary artery disease and how it is diagnosed.

When Do You Need Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)?

Cardiac catheterization and angiography is the most definitive way to diagnose and sometimes treat coronary artery disease. It uses a catheter inserted into an artery and maneuvered into the heart where contrast dye can show arteries that are narrowed or blocked.

If your doctor diagnoses you with severe coronary artery disease, they may determine that you need treatments in addition to medications or stents. They may refer you for coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). This may be due to:

  • Your blockage cannot be easily fixed by angioplasty (stent)
  • You have blockages in multiple vessels
  • You have blockage in the main artery supplying blood to the heart
  • Your heart muscle is weak

All patients who are referred for coronary artery bypass grafting will be reviewed by our experienced team of cardiologists, interventional cardiologist and cardiac surgeons to ensure the most appropriate evidence-based therapy.

What is CABG Surgery?

Coronary artery bypass surgery has long been the solution for restoring blood flow to the heart muscle. It is the most common heart surgery performed in the U.S. Bypass surgery involves using an artery or vein from the chest or leg to create a detour around the clogged artery. The new artery or vein is grafted into place to restore blood flow to the heart.

Why Choose Virginia Mason for Your CABG Surgery?

Our surgeons have decades of experience with CABG and complicated cardiac surgical care. Their reputation for quality and safety places them among the best in the region and nationally. Virginia Mason cardiac surgeons have had a long history of multidisciplinary evaluation of each patient to ensure the most appropriate treatment plan.

In addition, Virginia Mason cardiac surgeons have been regional leaders in coronary bypass grafting with ground-breaking research on inflammation and cardiac surgery and improving the safety of the heart lung machine. In addition, they were pioneers in the use of “off-pump” CABG and early adopters of minimally invasive endoscopic vein harvesting.

For more information about coronary artery disease and CABG, or to make an appointment, please call (206) 223-6198.