Difference Between Bypass and Open Heart Surgery

Heart-related problems have now become more common than in the previous decades. Some of such problems don’t always require surgery, they can be avoided with a healthy lifestyle. However, in some extreme symptoms surgeries are needed to prevent the issue from being life-threatening. Two such heart-related surgeries are known as Bypass Surgery and Open-heart Surgery.

Bypass Surgery vs Open Heart Surgery

The main difference between Bypass Surgery and Open Heart Surgery is that bypass surgery is a surgical procedure to restore normal blood flow and open-heart surgery is any surgery in which the surgeon makes a large cut in the chest skin to operate on the heart.

Bypass vs Opne heart surgery

Bypass Surgery, also known as Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery, is a type of surgery in which the surgeon through a procedure restores normal blood flow to a blocked coronary artery. Bypass surgery is a type of open-heart surgery.

Open-heart surgeries include all those surgeries in which the surgeon has to cut the skin on the chest and reach out to operate on the heart. Depending on the surgery, the surgeon might also have to cut through portions of the heart. Open-heart surgeries are a type of Cardiac Surgery.

Comparison Table Between Bypass and Open Heart Surgery

Parameters of ComparisonBypass Heart SurgeryOpen Heart Surgery
TypesSingle Bypass, Double Bypass, Triple Bypass, and Quadruple Bypass.Bypass Surgery, Heart Transplant, Maze surgery, etc.
Post-Operative SymptomsConstipation, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, etc.Aches, numbness in elbows, Swelling of chest cut, etc.
RisksIncreased risks of a heart attack, lung problems, fever, pneumonia, etc.Bleeding, Ischemic Heart Damage, Blood Clots, etc.
Recovery TimeFull recovery within 12 weeks.Most patients recover in 4-6 weeks but it may vary.
Success Rate97-98% of bypass surgeries are successful.About 96% of open-heart surgeries are successful.

What is Bypass Heart Surgery?

Bypass Surgery, also known as Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery is a procedure to treat coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the narrowing of the coronary arteries. These arteries are the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart. This disease is caused by a prolonged development of fatty material within the arteries’ walls. As a result, the insides of the arteries narrow down which limits the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Bypass Surgery is one of the most common open-heart surgeries.

To bypass the problematic coronary artery, the surgeon makes an incision in the chest walls and temporarily stops the heart. Once the heart is reachable, the tubes are inserted into the heart so that the blood can be pumped by a heart-lung bypass machine. The bypass machine is necessary to pump blood while the heart is stopped. Even though this traditional open-heart surgery is mostly preferred, less invasive techniques are also available in which the heart doesn’t have to be stopped.

There are four types of bypass surgeries including single bypass, double bypass, triple bypass, and quadruple bypass. Bypass Surgery is not new and advancements have been made throughout the decades to minimize the risks. Hence, bypass surgeries are mostly safe.

What is Open Heart Surgery?

Open-heart Surgeries include all those surgeries in which the surgeon has to cut the skin on the chest and reach out to operate on the heart. Open-heart surgeries include procedures done on the heart, valves, arteries, aorta, and large arteries connected to the heart.

Open-heart surgeries are very common and most of these surgeries are nearly risk-free. These surgeries are a type of Cardiac Surgeries. Some common open-heart surgeries include bypass surgery, heart Transplant, maze surgery, heart valve surgery, etc.

There are two methods to perform open-heart surgeries:

  • On-pump: In this method, a heart-lung bypass machine connects to the heart and temporarily stops it from beating.
  • Off-pump: In this method, the surgery is performed while the heart is stabilized but is still beating. However, this method is only applicable for bypass surgeries.

Before any open-heart surgery is performed, the patient is asked to stop taking certain blood-thinning medications a few weeks before, reduce alcohol intake, quit smoking, healthy food consumption, etc. as carelessness in these factors can lead to risky complications in the surgery. After the surgery, it is recommended for patients to be indulged in minor physical tasks, chest physiotherapy, regular walking, and restrict salt consumption, etc.

Main Differences Between Bypass and Open Heart Surgery

  1. The recovery time of patients after bypass surgery is about 12 weeks while patients after open-heart surgeries can take longer to heal depending on the type of surgery.
  2. Most bypass surgery patients survive more than 10 years at least whereas not all open-heart surgeries promise as much survival rate.
  3. Bypass surgery’s procedure is nearly risk-free whereas some open-heart surgeries can cause life-threatening symptoms.
  4. Bypass surgery can be performed by both on-pump and off-pump methods. On the other hand, open-heart surgeries require an on-pump method only.
  5. Bypass surgery includes working on the blocked coronary arteries only whereas open-heart surgeries include surgeries on all parts of the heart.


Heart-related diseases are a leading cause of death, but they are not untreatable. Bypass surgery is undoubtedly the most common open-heart surgery there is. While the two of them are different, bypass surgery is an open-heart surgery itself. On the other hand, open-heart surgeries include many other treatments as well.

While an individual can’t change natural factors including age, genetic symptoms, etc., there are ways to naturally reduce the risk of such diseases. Eating a heart-healthy diet, regular exercising, avoiding intoxication like alcohol and smoking, adequate sleep, managing stress, etc., are the most important factors to keep heart-healthy. All these factors combined make a healthy lifestyle, which is missing in most heart patients.

People having diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc., are more prone to heart-related diseases. These conditions can be genetic or a result of an unhealthy lifestyle. Therefore, such people need to be extra responsible for any heart-related symptoms.

With the traditional open-heart surgeries including bypass surgery, the on-pump method is still practiced but with the advancements in the medical field, the treatments have become less painful and more promising. However, such diseases can be life-threatening too. Hence, regular heart checkups and screening are necessary for people prone to such diseases.


  1. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejm199612193352501
  2. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM196508052730601

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