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When an artery of the heart is blocked, a bridging is necessary in order to provide the heart with sufficient oxygen. This bridging is called a bypass. This article gives you information about the length of the operation in Germany, how much it costs and how risky it is.

When is bypass surgery necessary?

Our heart is only as big as a fist and weighs between 250 and 350 grams. Still, during the average human life, it pumps about 250 million liters of blood through the body. In order to be able to work properly, it has to be strong and healthy.

Coronary arteries play a major part in the functionality of the heart, because they are responsible for the blood circulation of the heart. If one of these “highways of the heart” is blocked, the heart muscle cannot be supplied with enough oxygen-rich blood. The consequences are shortness of breath, cardiac arrhythmia or in the worst case, a heart attack. To ensure oxygen supply in the case of a clogged artery, a circumvention has to be set up: the so-called bypass. Bypasses often consist of leg veins, which the surgeons took from the thigh or the lower leg of the same patient. Then, they are sewn to the aorta and behind the narrowing onto the coronary arteries. The primary objective of the bypass surgery is to improve the blood flow of the heart muscle by means of enough oxygen-rich blood.

How long does a bypass surgery take?

Bypass surgery in Germany takes between three and four hours. During surgery, the heart of the patient is immobilized, so that the heart surgeon can place the bypasses. A heart-lung machine ensures the circulation of the blood during the operation.

Patients with a bypass surgery in Germany

Some patients are lucky for their circumstances and the clogged narrowings of the coronary artery are in a position where the surgeon can perform an off-pump coronary artery bypass. In that case, the heart-lung machine is not needed because the heart on beating during surgery. However, doctors need a lot of experience for this operational method, which is why it is not offered by every heart surgeon.

How much does a bypass cost in Germany?

The costs of the bypass surgery depend on different factors. If you want a treatment by the chief physician, it will be more expensive. You also pay more for a single room. For patients from abroad, other costs for travel, visa, accommodation of family members and possibly translation services have to be added.

If you only take the basic costs of a simple bypass surgery without any additional services, adult patients pay 14,700 euros on average for 11 hospital days. It does not matter whether the doctor places one, two, three or four bypasses, because regardless of the number of bypasses, the same flat-rate payment is accounted (F06E).

Bypass surgery for young patients with a congenital heart defect is more expensive. In this case, the operation costs 18,700 euros on average for 14 hospital days (F03E) due to the increased effort.

This is how much bypass surgery costs for children and adults

How dangerous is a bypass operation?

Around 70,000 bypass operations are performed in Germany per year (procedure OPS 5-361). Hence, the operation is a routine intervention. In some clinics, it is performed more than 1,000 times per year. However, it is still a major intervention. Like for every surgery, wound infection, secondary bleeding or the formation of blood clots can occur. Also, cardiac arrhythmia or heart failure can be the result of such an operation. Despite these possible complications, most patients overcome this intervention really well.

Possible complications

  • 1 in 100 patients suffer a stroke from the operation.
  • Approximately 5 in 100 patients have a heart attack in the 4 years following the operation.
  • 6 in 100 patients need another intervention in the following 4 years because new narrowings have occurred.

How long do I have to stay at the hospital after bypass surgery?

After bypass surgery, patients are monitored for a few days in an intensive care unit. After that, they are transferred to a normal ward for one to two weeks. Normally, after the stay at the hospital, patients stay at a rehabilitation clinic for three more weeks.

Thus, in a normal course of treatment, the patient will be away from home for five weeks for the bypass operation.

Do you have questions concerning your treatment in Germany or a specific clinic? Write us an email. We are glad to help!