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Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery: Your Medical Team - Topic Overview

A team of surgeons, nurses, and other medical staff will participate in your coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Each team member has a specific set of responsibilities before, during, and after the surgery.

CABG surgery is a complex operation. It involves a great deal of technical expertise and precision. The medical professionals in the operating room during your surgery will be specially trained in performing the CABG procedure. Also, your medical team will probably have worked together as a team many times in the past.

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You might have a team that helps you decide whether to have bypass surgery. This team could be your cardiac surgeon and another cardiologist, called an interventional cardiologist, who does angioplasty procedures. They can help you understand your treatment options and help you make a decision.

The exact team will differ at particular hospitals. But the medical team that performs a CABG surgery is roughly similar at all institutions.

  • Surgical team: Your cardiac surgeon or surgeons and a surgical assistant will perform your CABG procedure.
  • Anesthesiology team: Your anesthesiologist and a certified registered nurse anesthetist will give and monitor your anesthesia, medicines, and vital signs during the surgery.
  • Nursing team: Specially trained nurses will assist the surgical team.
  • Perfusionist: A certified medical technician monitors the heart-lung bypass machine.

Surgical team

You will likely first meet your cardiac surgeon at his or her office. That's where you will discuss specific aspects of your CABG surgery. Many hospitals require that two cardiac surgeons perform this kind of surgery. These surgeons lead the procedure and are responsible for performing its most intricate parts. Specifically, your surgeon will:

  • Handle your heart and blood vessels.
  • Graft the new blood vessels to your coronary arteries.
  • Oversee all the other parts of the surgery.

All surgeries also have a surgical assistant. He or she is typically responsible for harvesting the blood vessels that will be used as graft material. This assistant will also help the surgeon with opening and closing your chest and sewing (suturing) your incision after surgery. He or she is also the person who will most regularly check on your progress as you recover.

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