Heart Disease Home > Recommending Beating Heart Bypass Surgery

Before recommending beating heart bypass surgery, your doctor will consider your symptoms, test results, and overall health. Bypass surgery was traditionally performed on a temporarily stopped heart, with the patient on a heart-lung machine. If your surgeon is recommending beating heart bypass surgery, it means that your heart will be stabilized, but still beating on its own, while the new blood vessels are being attached.

Why Is My Doctor Recommending Beating Heart Bypass Surgery?

Your doctor may have talked to you about a minimally invasive surgery called "beating heart coronary artery bypass surgery." Your doctor may also call it "beating heart surgery" or "off-pump bypass surgery."
If your doctor is recommending beating heart bypass surgery, you probably have spoken about your heart, your health, and the results of your tests. Your doctor has found that one or more of the coronary arteries to your heart muscle are blocked. If these blockages aren't fixed, you are at increased risk of having a heart attack.
The goal of any coronary artery bypass surgery (also known as open heart surgery or just bypass surgery) is to take a blood vessel from somewhere else in your body and use it to make a detour, or "bypass," for blood to go around the blockage in your artery. Improving blood flow to this area of your heart may help relieve many or all of the symptoms you may be having -- such as pain, pressure, or tightness in your chest.
In the past, coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) was normally done while the patient was on a heart-lung bypass machine. During the surgery, this machine took over the work of the heart and lungs while they were temporarily stopped. The new blood vessels were attached while the heart wasn't beating.
However, the method that your surgeon may have discussed with you is bypass surgery that allows the new blood vessel, or graft, to be sewn to your heart while it's still beating. A device called a heart stabilizer is used to reduce the movement of the heart where your surgeon is working. That's why it's called "beating heart" bypass surgery. It's considered a minimally invasive surgery because you don't need to be put on the heart-lung bypass machine.
Beating heart bypass surgery may have advantages over the older method, which uses the heart-lung machine. People who have beating heart surgery may spend less time in the hospital after the surgery. The risk of certain complications may be decreased, and patients can often get back to their normal activities sooner.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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