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Myths of bypass surgery

Dr Bipeenchandra Bhamre, Cardio-Thoracic Surgeon at Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre

1) Bypass surgery is very risky operation.

This is a myth. With technological advancements bypass surgery is  very low risk. In expert hands surgical results are more than 99%.  Only 1%  risk of mortality. This is very low risk if you consider other


2) Stents are safer than bypass surgery.

This is very misunderstood perception in society. In scientic world bypass surgery has proven to be best method to relieve chest pain symptoms and least chances of getting next heart attack as compared to stents and medical management.  Long term relief od symptoms is better with bypass surgery. So it is important to consult a highly experienced team in order to ensure that correct treatment is chosen for each patient specific anatomy. Patient who has stents placed inappropriately is unlikely to gain good long term benefit. Surgical option should not be chosen if stenting can offer less invasive and successful option.

3) Arterial conduits in bypass surgery.

We are using exclusively bilateral internal mammary artery for bypass surgery. This gives long term benefit and in majority of patients these grafts works for more than 20 to 25 years.

4) I will not get heart attack after bypass surgery.

Well about 1 to 2 % patients may get heart attack after bypass surgery. This percentage is very smaller as compared to patients who do not take any treatment for coronary artery blockages which upto 27% mortality in 20 months of follow up. Off course the other factors like high blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking  diabetes stress plays a role. With lifestyle modification we can avoid heart attacks after bypass surgery.

5) Life will not be the same after bypass surgery.

This is a myth. Initial 6 to 8 weeks are important for complete recovery from bypass surgery.  Once this time is over you can actually go back to your prebypass professional and personal life. We do surgeries to live more healthy and symptom free life. Here after surgery the chest pain is gone and you are as free to live your life as other normal person. I remember one patient in Houston ,Texas who was astronaut, underwent bypass surgery and after 2 months of recovery he cleared all his medical tests  and went back to space!

6) There is no chance for second bypass surgery.

With technological advancements surgery second bypass surgery is possible with mild risk to life with mortality rate of 2 to 3 %. I hear lot of people asking doctor can we place stents now so that next time we can do bypass surgery. So whenever we do the first operation we must use the best conduits for bypass surgery, and todays date the best conduits are Bilateral internal mammary arteries. The patency life of bilateral internal mammary artery is 88%  at 20 years of follow up. This sorts most of the answer. What we do at 1st  time is the most important .

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