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Heart Disease Health Center

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Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery: How to Prepare - Topic Overview

How do you prepare for CABG surgery?

There are many things that you can and must do in the days and weeks before your coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your CABG surgery.

CABG surgery is an invasive procedure that has a fairly long recovery time, so it is important that you prepare carefully for your surgery as well as for the days and weeks following your surgery. Try to make your life simpler during the recovery period by doing things such as paying bills ahead of time and arranging for someone to assist you in the days following your surgery. It is also important to plan for any complications that could arise. A lot of the preparation that you do before your surgery will help you afterward, while you are recovering.

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Before surgery

In the 2 or 3 weeks prior to surgery, attend any scheduled appointments with your surgeon. You will need to have several tests done before your surgery. Most of these tests are done so that your doctors can evaluate and compare your health before and after CABG surgery. The tests can also help your doctors anticipate any special needs. To be ready by the day of your surgery, the tests need to be done days or weeks before.

Tests done days or weeks before surgery

  • Blood count (hematocrit): This blood test can reveal whether you are anemic (have a low red blood cell count). A very low blood count may need to be increased before or during surgery with a blood transfusion.
  • Prothrombin time (PT, also referred to as INR) and thromboplastin time (PTT) values: These blood tests measure your blood's ability to clot. Typically, you will have these tests if you have recently stopped taking blood-thinning drugs, to make sure the drugs are no longer affecting your blood's ability to clot.
  • Other blood tests: Other tests may be done to assess your kidney and liver functions and provide information on the health of these organs.
  • Chest X-ray: This test provides a picture of the size and shape of your heart and aorta and whether your lungs appear normal.
  • Cardiac catheterization: This test allows your doctor to picture your coronary arteries and identify the location of blockages to help plan your CABG surgery.
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