Background In the last decade, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) has undergone profound changes in techniques used to achieve revascularization and in patient selection. We examine trends in emergency surgical revascularization after PCI. Methods Using The Society of Thoracic Surgeons National Cardiac Surgery Database, we examined patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting within 6 hours of PCI from 1994 to 2003. Stratifying into groups of patients who had and had not suffered myocardial infarction within 24 hours of PCI followed by coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), we tracked trends in characteristics, predicted risk, and clinical outcomes. Results The proportion of isolated CABG procedures done emergently after PCI decreased over 1994 to 1999 from 3,357 of 115,679 (2.9%) to 1,227 of 155,831 (0.8%), remaining stable through 2003. Those suffering myocardial infarction within 24 hours made up a constant proportion of isolated CABG as emergency after PCI (3,352 of 1,042,864; 0.3%) since 1997. Over the decade, the preoperative risk profile worsened, including more elderly patients and more with cerebrovascular disease and congestive heart failure. Operative mortality among these patients has risen with time (from 8.0% to 9.3%; p < 0.0001 for trend), particularly in the setting of acute myocardial infarction (from 14.1% to 16.6%; p < 0.0001 for trend). Similarly, postoperative complications have increased over time, most notably seen in the need for reoperation (10.62% to 24.56%), prolonged postoperative ventilation (25.65% to 54.58%), and renal failure (10.22% to 18.55%). Conclusions In 2005, there remains a low but real need for emergent CABG after PCI, in which operative outcomes are less than ideal, especially in the postinfarction patient, representing an area for cross-specialty collaboration.