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Benefits and Risks – Beating Heart Bypass Surgery

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

Beating heart bypass surgery or off pump coronary artery bypass (OPCAB) is a safe and proven option to conventional bypass surgery. Both Off Pump Coronary Artery Bypass (OPCAB) and traditional bypass surgery offer beneficial results.

Doing surgery on a beating heart eliminates the need for the heart-lung machine. This can result in fewer side effects.


Some of the potential benefits of beating heart surgery include:

  • A lower risk of stroke1
  • Fewer problems with memory loss and thinking skills2,3,4
  • Lower death rate – especially among women and "high risk" patients5
  • Less need for transfusion6,7,8
  • Reduced injury to the heart9
  • Shorter hospital stay10
  • Fewer heart rhythm problems7

Long-term Success of OPCAB

The majority of OPCAB surgery patients have improvement or complete relief of their symptoms and remain symptom-free for several years.11 They may recover from surgery more quickly than those who go "on pump" and they may suffer from fewer post-operative complications.7


Coronary artery bypass surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures in the United States. Your risk of death from the surgery is usually very low. As with any surgery, there are risks involved. The risks are no greater for off-pump heart bypass surgery than for conventional bypass surgery. These risks can include but are not limited to:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Lung complications
  • Death

There are many factors that can determine your risk. Including:

  • Age (older than 70)
  • Your health at the time of the surgery
  • If you are having emergency surgery
  • Smoking
  • Poor heart muscle function
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Chronic kidney failure

Talk to Your Doctor

If you are facing cardiac surgery of any type, discuss these risk factors with your doctor to determine the best treatment for you.



Karamanoukian, H, et al. Decreased incidence of postoperative stroke following off-pump coronary artery bypass. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2002;39:917.


Newman, et al. Longitudinal assessment of neurocognitive function after coronary-artery bypass surgery. N Engl J Med. 2001;344(6):295-402.


Diegler A, et al. Neuromonitoring and neurocognitive outcome in off-pump versus conventional coronary bypass operation. Ann Thorac Surg. 2000;69:1162-1166.


Basker Rhao B, et al. Evidence for improved cerebral function after minimally invasive bypass surgery. J Card Surg. 1998;13:27-31.


Arom K, et al. Safety and efficacy of off-pump coronary artery bypass grafting. Ann Thorac Surg. 2000;69:704-710.


Puskas JD, et al. Clinical outcomes, angiographic patency, and resource utilization in 200 consecutive off-pump coronary bypass patients. Ann Thorac Surg. 2001;71:1477-1484.


Boyd W, et al. Off-pump surgery decreases postoperative complications and resource utilization in the elderly. Ann Thorac Surg. 1999;68:1490-1494.


Ascione R, et al. Beating versus arrested heart revascularization: evaluation of myocardial function in a prospective randomized study. Eur J Cardio-thorac Surg. 1999;15:685-690.


Rastan, A J, et al. On pump- beating heart versus off pump coronary artery bypass surgery—evidence of pump induced myocardial injury. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2005; 27:1057-1064.


Ascione R, et al. Economic outcome of off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery: a prospective randomized study. Ann Thorac Surg. 1999;68:2237-2242.

11 Coronary Bypass Surgery.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.