Surgical Bypass

A Surgical Bypass routes blood flow around an area of blockage caused by Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD).  The surgery does not cure the disease or remove the blockage. It merely acts as a ‘detour’ around the blockage.

Why do I need a Surgical Bypass?

A Surgical Bypass may be recommended if you have Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and treatment using other therapies (eg medication, exercise, stopping smoking and wound care) has not been successful; and alternative treatment is not suitable (eg. balloon angioplasty and stenting).

Your vascular surgeon will perform tests to assess your suitability for Surgical Bypass to treat PAD symptoms including:

  • pain in your leg muscles while walking (claudication)

  • pain at night, especially in the feet (rest pain)

  • feet and leg sores that won't heal

  • dead tissue (gangrene)

What is involved in a Surgical Bypass?

The most common sites for a Surgical Bypass are the leg (also called a lower extremity or fem-pop bypass) or the abdomen (also called an aortic bypass). Grafts can be made from natural (your own vein) or synthetic materials and their use depends on which blood vessel is being bypassed. Natural vein grafts last longer than synthetic ones.

Surgical Bypass is performed under general anaesthetic or using a spinal block so you are comfortable and pain-free during the operation. If needed, you will be given a blood transfusion.  

For a leg (fem-pop) bypass:

  • An incision is made at the groin crease and again at the end point (either the inner knee, calf or foot)

  • A natural or synthetic graft is used to detour around the blockage, beginning at your groin/thigh crease to the chosen end point

  • The graft is sewn to the artery at both ends with fine stitches

  • Surgery can take 1.5–6 hours

For an Aortic Bypass:

  • A vertical midline abdominal incision is made

  • A synthetic graft made of fabric or plastic is used

  • The graft is sewn to the artery at both ends with fine stitches

  • Surgery can take 3–4 hours

Where will my procedure be performed?

Your procedure will be performed at the hospital you agreed on with your doctor at your initial consultation.

What are the risks of Surgical Bypass procedure?

Surgical Bypass is a major procedure. There are risks as with any surgical procedure. This includes risks associated with anesthetic and those related to your specific procedure. Your vascular surgeon will discuss all relevant risks with you prior to your operation.

What will my recovery be like after Surgical Bypass?

The recovery period for Surgical Bypass depends on the type of bypass surgery. Most patients will take a few weeks off to recover.

You’ll typically have some discomfort at the site of any incisions, which will be treated with pain medication. You may also have some swelling, numbness or drainage at the incision site. Ask your vascular surgeon what else you can expect and what you can do to help your recovery.

Following your recovery from surgery, muscle pain with walking should improve and resolve. Your surgeon will continue to monitor the bypass graft. Occasionally, additional procedures are needed to keep the bypass functioning properly.

Have More questions about Surgical Bypass?

If you have any questions about Surgical Bypass, please don’t hesitate to ask the team at Vascular Associates.