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Table of Contents
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 261-262

Off-pump awake coronary artery bypass grafting under high thoracic epidural anesthesia

1 Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Dr. S. N. Medical College, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, District Hospital, Poata, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

Date of Web Publication10-May-2016

Correspondence Address:
Bharat Paliwal
Sector-23, House-14, Chopasni Housing Board Colony, Pal Road, Jodhpur - 342 008, Rajasthan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-9185.168201

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Conventionally general anesthesia has been the preferred anesthetic technique for coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Ever since the first awake CABG the concept though appearing promising is still being continually evaluated. From the Indian perspective, the practice has been largely limited to certain institutions and seems to be not widely practiced across India. This case reports our experience with this technique from the western part of the country.

Keywords: Awake coronary artery bypass grafting, general anesthesia, Indian perspective

How to cite this article:
Paliwal B, Kamal M, Chauhan DS, Purohit A. Off-pump awake coronary artery bypass grafting under high thoracic epidural anesthesia. J Anaesthesiol Clin Pharmacol 2016;32:261-2

How to cite this URL:
Paliwal B, Kamal M, Chauhan DS, Purohit A. Off-pump awake coronary artery bypass grafting under high thoracic epidural anesthesia. J Anaesthesiol Clin Pharmacol [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 Jun 15];32:261-2. Available from:

  Introduction Top

While technical modifications such as off-pump technique have reduced the postoperative complications and surgical mortality of coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), awake CABG using thoracic epidural analgesia (TEA) alone opens the opportunity of surgery for those patients who are not suitable candidates for general anesthesia (GA).

  Case Report Top

A 56-year-old male, weighing 55 kg and 165 cm tall was posted for CABG. He had a history of Koch's chest. Physical examination revealed breath holding time of 15 s and reduced air entry. Pulmonary function tests showed moderate obstructive pathology (post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 s 50% of predicted and reversibility postbronchodilator therapy of 15%). Echocardiography revealed left ventricular ejection fraction of 65% with no regional wall motion abnormality. Coronary angiography showed 90% block at left anterior descending (LAD) artery ostium. Functional capacity of the patient was NYHA Class II and objective assessment was Class C. All medications were continued till the morning of surgery except for aspirin and clopidogrel, which were stopped for 1-week. A day prior to the surgery the patient was counseled for the procedure and an epidural catheter placed at T2-T3 interspace.

On the day of surgery after applying electrocardiograph and pulse oximetry, premedication with 1 mg midazolam, 5 mg ondansetron and 50 μg fentanyl was given. This was followed by placement of the arterial cannula, central venous catheter, and  Swan-Ganz catheter More Details under local anesthesia. Epidural was activated with a mixture of 0.375% ropivacaine (10 ml) and 5 μg/ml fentanyl followed by infusion of the solution at the rate of 10 ml/h. A sensory block of C7 to T10 level was tested with pin-prick 20 min after drug administration. No significant hemodynamic changes occurred during the procedure. The occlusive screen was placed and patient kept on inhaled oxygen at 4 L/min by ventimask. An additional 100 μg fentanyl intravenous (IV) was given before sternotomy. Patient underwent all the surgical events without discomfort.

Planned bypass graft of left internal mammary artery (LIMA) to LAD artery could not be achieved due to LIMA injury during harvesting. The saphenous vein from the right leg was harvested under femoral nerve block and was used for the bypass graft. Hemodynamic and respiratory parameters were monitored and well maintained during the procedure. Immediately after surgery patient could sit upright with support as well as inhale deeply without any discomfort.

Postoperatively the epidural infusion was continued for 72 h using a mixture of 0.25% ropivacaine and 5 μg/ml fentanyl at the rate of 8-10 ml/h. Visual Analogue Scale score was used to assess pain relief. The only complaint in the immediate postoperative period was nausea, which responded to 5HT3 antagonist. Epidural catheter, all invasive lines and chest drain were removed on 3 rd postoperative day and aspirin-clopidogrel started. He was mobilized on the same day and discharged from the hospital on the 7 th day.

  Discussion Top

Since the first CABG in an awake patient was performed in October 1998 with high TEA block, [1] occasional cases have been reported in the literature with varying success. A few have reported conversion rate to GA of 7 [2] to 20%. [3]

Awake CABG using high thoracic epidural has several benefits [4] including avoidance of GA and positive pressure ventilation. T1-T5 sympatholysis dilates coronary arteries and internal thoracic artery. TEA also reduces the endogenous stress response, heart rate, and arrhythmias during manipulation of the heart, [5] and also reduces the risk of myocardial ischemia and postoperative atrial fibrillation. The effective pain management allows adequate spontaneous ventilation and thus reduces postoperative pulmonary complications. [6] It also allows rapid mobilization and recovery and thus decreased intensive care unit stay. [7]

A few issues need to be addressed. First is the perceived risk of epidural hematoma formation with heparinization. Several studies have shown epidural catheter placement to be safe in patients undergoing surgery if the ASRA guidelines are strictly adhered to. [8] Epidural catheters should be inserted not less than one hour before anticoagulation. In case of bloody tap the surgery should be delayed for 24 h. [8] Postoperatively the catheter should not be removed if the international normalized ratio is >1.5.

Patient selection is of prime importance as is preoperative counseling. Verbal reassurance during surgery, music through headphones or sedation with IV midazolam or propofol infusion may be employed.

Another issue is the presence of "patchy" block unidentified during routine preoperative pin-prick testing. Therefore reassessment should be carried out before skin.

  Conclusion Top

We found our first experience of awake CABG satisfying as the patient was pain-free and remained hemodynamically stable.


The authors sincerely acknowledge the contribution of Dr. S.C. Paliwal (Msc.Tech., Ph.D., LL.B.), Dr. Subhash Balara (Cardiothoracic Surgeon) and Dr. Sandeep Aggrawal (Resident Anesthesia).

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Karagoz HY, Sönmez B, Bakkaloglu B, Kurtoglu M, Erdinç M, Türkeli A, et al. Coronary artery bypass grafting in the conscious patient without endotracheal general anesthesia. Ann Thorac Surg 2000;70:91-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
Watanabe G, Tomita S, Yamaguchi S, Yashiki N. Awake coronary artery bypass grafting under thoracic epidural anesthesia: Great impact on off-pump coronary revascularization and fast-track recovery. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 2011;40:788-93.  Back to cited text no. 2
Noiseux N, Prieto I, Bracco D, Basile F, Hemmerling T. Coronary artery bypass grafting in the awake patient combining high thoracic epidural and femoral nerve block: First series of 15 patients. Br J Anaesth 2008;100:184-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
Scott NB, Turfrey DJ, Ray DA, Nzewi O, Sutcliffe NP, Lal AB, et al. A prospective randomized study of the potential benefits of thoracic epidural anesthesia and analgesia in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting. Anesth Analg 2001;93:528-35.  Back to cited text no. 4
Kirnö K, Friberg P, Grzegorczyk A, Milocco I, Ricksten SE, Lundin S. Thoracic epidural anesthesia during coronary artery bypass surgery: Effects on cardiac sympathetic activity, myocardial blood flow and metabolism, and central hemodynamics. Anesth Analg 1994;79:1075-81.  Back to cited text no. 5
Stenseth R, Bjella L, Berg EM, Christensen O, Levang OW, Gisvold SE. Effects of thoracic epidural analgesia on pulmonary function after coronary artery bypass surgery. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 1996;10:859-65.  Back to cited text no. 6
Fillinger MP, Yeager MP, Dodds TM, Fillinger MF, Whalen PK, Glass DD. Epidural anesthesia and analgesia: Effects on recovery from cardiac surgery. J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth 2002;16:15-20.  Back to cited text no. 7
Ho AM, Chung DC, Joynt GM. Neuraxial blockade and hematoma in cardiac surgery: Estimating the risk of a rare adverse event that has not (yet) occurred. Chest 2000;117:551-5.  Back to cited text no. 8

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