After the grafts are in place and your heart regains strength, you will slowly be removed from the heart-lung bypass machine. You will be completely free of the machine when your heart resumes its normal function and can support your body with its own pumping ability. Because everyone's heart is different, the time it takes to be removed from the bypass machine varies.
If your heart is slow to return to its normal function, several options are available to help it regain strength. These include medication through your IV, or a device called an intra-aortic balloon pump. An intra-aortic balloon pump can be inserted through a vessel in your groin and placed directly in your aorta. When this inflates, it increases your blood pressure, helping your heart to pump more effectively.
Small, thin wires (called pacing wires) will also be placed directly onto the surface of your heart. These provide electrical stimulation to help your heart beat normally after you have been removed from the bypass machine. These wires will be left inside your chest throughout your immediate recovery. Usually these are temporary, but in some people, the wires may need to be replaced by a permanent pacemaker.
To finish bypass surgery, several chest tubes will also be placed inside your chest to collect any fluid that drains into the spaces around your heart and lungs. These help to ensure that your lungs and heart are working properly.
At the end of your bypass surgery, your breastbone is brought back together with thick steel wire. This helps your breastbone to heal and prevents movement as you become active again. Your skin incision is then closed with stitches and a sterile bandage is applied.