Heart Disease Home > Instruments and Grafts Used for Open Heart Surgery
One of the most important instruments used for open heart surgery is the heart-lung bypass machine. The heart-lung bypass machine is used during open heart surgery to add oxygen to your blood and pump the blood to your body. Bypass grafts are also used during open heart surgery; these grafts bring blood directly from your aorta to an area of your coronary artery that is just beyond the narrowed or blocked section.
(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.)
Every procedure requires special instruments and components. Two important parts of open heart surgery include the heart-lung bypass machine and the bypass graft.
Heart-Lung Bypass Machine
It is almost impossible to do open heart surgery without interrupting the natural functions of your heart and lungs. Therefore, a specialized and highly sophisticated machine, called the cardiopulmonary bypass machine, or "heart-lung" bypass machine, was developed to replace the functions of your heart and lungs while your heart surgery is being performed. Similar to your lungs, it will add oxygen to your blood. Like your heart, it will pump the blood to your body. This machine will only be used during your open heart surgery.
Heart surgery requires blocked vessels to be bypassed by new vessels. These new vessels, also called grafts, bring blood directly from your aorta to an area of your coronary artery that is just beyond the narrowed or blocked section. This blood vessel may come from an area in your leg, arms, wrist, or chest.