Open-Heart Surgery

Open-heart surgery — sometimes called traditional heart surgery — is any type of surgery where the chest is cut open and surgery is performed on the muscles, valves or arteries of the heart.

The most common type of heart surgery performed on adults is coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) — and this surgery is available at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton.

What is CABG and when is it needed?

During CABG surgery, a healthy artery or vein from an arm or leg is grafted or attached to a blocked coronary artery, allowing the new grafted artery to “bypass” the blocked artery so that fresh blood can be brought to the heart.

People with coronary heart disease may need a CABG surgery at some point in their lives if the blood vessels that provide blood and oxygen to the heart muscle become narrow and hard. This is known as “hardening of the arteries.”

This hardening occurs when a fatty substance called plaque forms on the walls of the coronary arteries, narrowing them and making it hard for blood to flow. When this happens, a heart attack may occur.

Open-heart surgery may also be used to:

  • Repair or replace heart valves
  • Repair damaged or abnormal areas of the heart
  • Implant medical devices to keep the heart pumping


How is open-heart surgery performed?

Watch this video on CABG from Tanner’s Health Library to learn more about how open-heart surgery is usually performed.



What comes next?

Most patients who have had a CABG benefit from cardiovascular rehabilitation at the John and Barbara Tanner Cardiac Rehabilitation Center located in the Tanner Health Pavilion.

Cardiac rehabilitation, or cardiac rehab, is a medically-supervised exercise and educational program to help people who have heart disease or who are recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery. The goal of cardiac rehab is to strengthen the heart muscle and teach you healthy behaviors to lower the risk of future heart problems.

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