Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), aided by a heart-lung machine
to pump blood while the heart is temporarily immobilized, is one of the great
medical advances of the 20th century. But some researchers are saying bypass
surgery without such mechanical assistance may be even better in terms of
reduced morbidity and cost.
The heart-lung machine, which provides the cardiac surgeon with a stable
and bloodless environment in which to operate, is currently used for about
77% of all heart bypass cases. But there is morbidity associated with "on-pump"
CABG, including heart damage, stroke, and wound infection.
Mitka M. Beat Goes On in "Off-Pump" Bypass Surgery. JAMA. 2004;291(15):1821-1822. doi:10.1001/jama.291.15.1821