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Off-Pump Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

Coronary artery bypass graft is a commonly performed procedure to reroute the flow of blood around a blocked coronary artery. During most bypass surgeries, the heart is stopped and a heart-lung machine takes over the work of the heart and lungs.

Although most traditional bypass surgeries are performed successfully, some patients experience temporary memory loss or other side effects that may be associated with the heart-lung machine.

Off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery or OPCAB for short allows a surgeon to perform a bypass without stopping the heart. In one form of OPCAB, the chest is opened, and the surgeon uses a stabilization device to restrict the heart's motion.

A small elastic tape is placed around the blocked artery to stop the flow of blood. A vessel, taken from another part of the body, is attached from the aorta to a point beyond the blockage. The clamps are loosened and blood flow resumes through the repaired artery.

Some patients may be candidates for a less invasive version of the OPCAB. Called MIDCAB, for minimally invasive coronary artery bypass, a small hole is made in the patient's left side. The heart is stabilized and the patient's mammary artery is used to detour blood around the blocked coronary artery.