The Truth About Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)
CORONARY BYPASS SURGERY - an unnecessary surgical operation in the majority of cases
An Extract From The Book [What Doctors Don't Tell You, The truth about the dangers of modern medicine, Lynne McTaggart, 1996, pp. 261-262].
Patients often go under the knife unnecessarily with the vast bulk of surgery patients. In the US, some six million unnecessary operations and invasive tests get performed every year. Just to give you a perfect illustration of how much wrong is being done even in the case of such a common and simple operation as appendicectomy, in the US alone, 20 000 normal appendixes are mistakenly removed every year. Now to speak about a major and complex surgical operation as coronary bypass surgery, we can imagine how many patients undergo this type of surgery unnecessarily.
Bypass surgery might relieve symptoms in some patients, but there is no proof anywhere that this surgery actually prolongs life [John G.F. Cleland, correspondence, The Lancet, 1994; 344: 1222-4].
In one study involving researchers from 14 major heart hospitals around the world, up to one-third of all bypass operations were found to be unnecessary and actually to hasten the death of the patient. One-third of the patients, considered low-risk cases, might have lived longer if they had received drugs therapy rather than surgery [The Lancet, 1994; 344: 563-70].
Coronary bypass operations, in fact, are one of the most unnecessary operations of all. Heart surgeons have known this since the 1970s, when major studies revealed that bypass surgery did not improve survival except among patients with severe coronary artery disease, particularly to the left ventricle. It did, however, appear to relieve severe angina [New England Journal of Medicine, 1992; 326: 10-6]. The US National Institutes of Health has estimated that 90 per cent of American patients who undergo bypass surgery receive no benefits.
Bypass surgery may be the most appropriate choice only for those with triple-vessel disease (when two-thirds of each artery are blocked). Although this covers just 10 per cent of all heart condition sufferers, the bypass operation seems to be surviving better than its patients. (The death-rate ranges from 3 to 23 per cent in the US). This is not surprising when you consider that, in the US, it is one of the best-paying of surgical procedures, earning surgeons some $40 000 (27 000 pounds) per operation. This translates into an overall US medical bill of $5bn (3.3 thousand million pounds) a year to treat just 200 000 people [What Doctors Don't Tell You, The truth about the dangers of modern medicine, Lynne McTaggart, 1996, pp. 261-262].