Adult Cardiac Surgery

Government Study Shows Benefits of Bypass Surgery Over Stents

The study, recently released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), analyzed almost 10,000 patients in 23 randomized trials and considered real-world clinical registry data. Findings included that among those suffering from coronary heart disease, patients experienced fewer repeat procedures and less angina or chest pain with coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery than with percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) such as stents.

“In patients with advanced coronary atherosclerosis—generally patients with more than two and certainly patients with more than three major blockages—CABG as initial therapy provides not only the best chance of angina relief and freedom from repeat procedures, but also a substantially better chance of survival at three to five years compared to angioplasty with stents as initial therapy,” said Dr. John E. Mayer, Jr., Past President of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (2007-2008). “Because this information is so important, it is critical that both cardiologists and primary care physicians educate their patients so they can help them make informed treatment decisions.”

For the full text of the AHRQ study, click here.

There is no one treatment guaranteed to be effective for all cases of coronary artery disease. But because there are different treatment options, it is important for every patient to have the information and resources necessary, after talking with a variety of healthcare professionals, to make informed decisions.

Coronary artery bypass grafting or "CABG" (often pronounced "cabbage") is the most commonly performed "open heart" operation in the United States. Cardiothoracic surgeons perform the procedure to bypass blockages or obstructions of the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries are the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients.

This guide is presented as a service by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons to help answer some questions that patients and their families often ask after their heart surgery or, sometimes, before their surgery so that they better know what to expect in their recovery. 

Chronic pulmonary thromboembolic disease blocks the flow of blood through the lungs from the right side of the heart to the left. It therefore causes the pressures in the pulmonary arteries to rise.