Heart Disease Home > Anesthesia for Bypass Surgery

The most common type of anesthesia for bypass surgery is general anesthesia, which puts you into a deep sleep, making you unaware of pain, pressure, or movement. It is important to note that there are many risks and potential side effects of this type of anesthesia. Therefore, you should talk with your anesthesiologist, prior to your surgery, about any allergies or health conditions that you have.

(Technically speaking, an open heart surgery is any procedure where the chest is opened, which certainly includes procedures beyond a heart bypass (a valve replacement, for example). However, because a heart bypass is the most common type of open heart surgery, for the purposes of this article, we will be using the terms "bypass" and "open heart surgery" interchangeably.)

An Overview of Bypass Surgery Anesthesia

Anesthesia is used to eliminate the pain felt during bypass surgery. For this procedure, general anesthesia is the most common type of anesthesia that is used.
General anesthesia uses medications that put you into a deep sleep so that you are not aware of any pain, pressure, or movement.
You will first be given oxygen to breathe through a mask. Your anesthesiologist will then give you medicine through your IV that will cause you to feel very pleasantly relaxed and quickly drift off to sleep. After you are sound asleep, a breathing tube will be placed in the back of your throat to assist with your breathing throughout the operation. Your anesthesia care team will give you other medications through your IV as required during your procedure.
There are many risks and potential side effects of anesthesia used for open heart surgery. Therefore, it is important that you talk with your anesthesiologist before the open heart surgery. Be sure to tell him or her about any allergies or health conditions you have. This will help the anesthesiologist know how to take care of you during the surgery, as well as whether you will need any special attention.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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