Coronary artery bypass surgery began in the late 1950s. Bypass surgery is a procedure performed for certain types of coronary artery blockages. The procedure allows the surgeon to access the heart and the diseased arteries through an incision in the middle of the chest. The purpose of bypass surgery is to increase the circulation and nourishment to the heart muscle.
With bypass surgery, arteries or veins are taken from other parts of the body to create the grafts that channel the needed blood flow to the coronary arteries. Removing them does not significantly affect the blood flow from where they are taken. The most common vein used for the bypass graft, the saphenous vein, is taken from the leg. The removal of this vein is performed as part of your bypass surgery. The most common artery used for the bypass graft is the internal mammary artery (IMA), located in the chest. At times, the radial artery, located in the arm, is used. The arteries or veins are connected directly to the coronary arteries on the surface of the heart beyond the blockages forming a graft. This allows the blood to flow through them and bypass the narrowed or closed points.