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Open heart surgery and bypass surgery are the most commonly used procedures for the most effective treatments for heart diseases. Open heart surgery is performed by accessing the heart directly by making an incision through a patient's chest, while bypass surgery involves creating alternate pathways to direct blood flow.  Both surgical procedures have their own advantages and benefits. The heart may or may not need to be opened during open heart surgery. It might entail operations on other parts of the chest, such as the heart's muscles, valves, or arteries.

Bypass surgery is just a type of open-heart surgery. Bypass surgery may not be performed in an open heart manner. In bypass surgery, a blood vessel from the chest or the leg is transplanted on the coronary artery that has a blockage. The process makes sure that the blocked part of the arteries is bypassed and blood can flow easily through this new vessel. Bypass surgery may be performed through open-heart surgery or less invasive methods.

What Is Open Heart Surgery?

The term "open-heart surgery" refers to a procedure where the patient's chest is opened to directly access the heart to address heart-related problems. To access the heart, surgeons will cut through the sternum (breastbone) and spread the ribs. This is referred to as 'cracking the chest'.

The following are the conditions that you may need an open heart surgery:

Open Heart Surgery -Procedure:

Heart surgery is a complex procedure. Six hours or more may be needed for certain procedures. During the procedure, you will be kept under anesthesia and remain unconscious. The sequence of the surgical processes may vary depending on the heart condition and procedure. In general, your cardiologist will perform the following steps:

  • An incision of 6 to 8-inch length is made down the middle of your chest
  • The surgeon will cut your breast bone and spread your ribcage apart to get access to your heart
  • They will connect the heart to a heart-lung bypass machine if you are having an on-pump surgery. An IV medication will be given to you to stop the heart from beating and then monitor you during the surgery
  • Repairs the condition inside your heart
  • Restores the blood flow to your heart. In general, the heart starts beating on its own, but in certain conditions, it may need a mild electrical shock to restart functioning
  • Disconnect the heart-lung bypass machine
  • Using sutures, they will close the incision in the breast bone and the other incision
  • Uses stitches to close the skin incision

Depending upon the surgery performed, you need to stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) for a day or longer. Once your condition is stable, you will be shifted into the room. You may need to stay for a longer period in the hospital.

What Are The Risks Of Open Heart Surgery:

As it is a complex procedure, open heart surgery involves risks. The chances of having complications are greater if you have obesity, smoking habits,  chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes. 
The following are the risks associated with open heart surgery:

What Is Heart Bypass Surgery?

Heart bypass surgery or coronary artery bypass grafting is a surgical procedure carried out to restore blood flow to areas of your heart that are not getting adequate blood. This procedure can help you feel better and perform better in your heart, particularly if you've recently had a heart attack or are at a higher risk of getting one soon.

The following are the conditions that you may need a heart bypass surgery:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Angina pectoris
  • Myocardial ischaemia

Heart Bypass Surgery- Procedure:

Heart bypass surgery is the recommended choice of treatment method in cases of complex vessel disease if a person needs multiple bypasses, or if they have other underlying health conditions such as diabetes.
The following are the steps in bypass surgery:

  • An anesthesiologist will inject general anesthesia to make you sleep during the procedure. They will also place a breathing tube into your windpipe
  • Your cardiologist will remove the target blood vessels from your leg, arm or chest. This step is known as the harvesting g of graft vessels
  • An incision is made in the center of your chest and separates your sternum to get access into the heart. Your cardiologist will also stop your heart temporarily from beating at this point. The stage is known as the incision and opening
  • A cardiologist will place you on a cardiopulmonary bypass; connect you to a machine that takes over the heart and lung process. All surgeries do not need the use of this bypass
  • A cardiologist will attach the new graft vessels to either side of the blockages to divert the blood flow. This step is known as grafting
  • They will remove the cardiopulmonary bypass if needed and assess the blood flow to check the blood is flowing correctly through the grafted blood vessel. This step is known as restoring the blood flow of the heart
  • After checking the blood flow through the graft, cardiologists will fix your sternum with metal wires and they will see up the incision site.

The procedure may take 3 to 6 hours to complete, but it varies depending on the number of bypasses needed. After the procedure, you will be shifted to an intensive care unit.

What Are The Complications Of Bypass Surgery?

The complications of heart bypass surgery include:

  • Arrhythmias
  • Infections
  • Bleeding
  • Confusions or delirium
  • Kidney damage
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

What Is The Difference Between Bypass Surgery And Open Heart Surgery?

Open heart surgery and bypass surgery are the most popular options for the most effective treatments for heart diseases.  Open heart surgery is performed by accessing the heart directly by making an incision through a patient's chest, while bypass surgery involves creating alternate pathways to direct blood flow. Both open heart surgeries and bypass surgeries have their own benefits.  Therefore, medical professionals will decide which of the two surgeries is most suited for you depending on several factors like your underlying medical conditions, severity of the issue, type of disease, age and so on.


Open heart surgery involves performing surgery by cutting the patient’s heart open through his chest. On the other hand, bypass surgery involves creating an alternate path to maintain blood flow while performing the surgery. As a result, doctors will determine which of the two procedures is best for you based on several parameters, including your age, the type of disease, the severity of the problem, and any underlying medical issues.   

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Is it possible to lead a normal life after bypass surgery?

A: You will most likely feel tired most of the time throughout the first three to six weeks. This is a result of your body spending a lot of energy on self-healing. You should be able to resume most of your regular activities in six weeks, and you should be fully recovered by three months.

Q: Does open-heart surgery carry a high risk?

A: Open heart surgery is a significant procedure that needs to be closely watched and needs prompt post-operative care. After the procedure, it is typical for the patient to stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) for a few days in order to receive further treatment.

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