Surgical Bypass for Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease

The aorta is the main blood vessel of the body that starts at your heart and feeds down to all other areas. When it reaches belly button level, your aorta divides into the iliac arteries to provide blood to your legs and the organs in your pelvis.

Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease is when sections of the aorta or iliac arteries become blocked, usually by build-up of plaque within the walls of your blood vessels. The aorta and iliac arteries are the second most common blood vessels to be affected by Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD).

Why do I need a Surgical Bypass for Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease?

Surgical Bypass for Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease may be needed if you have severe blockages in your aorta or iliac arteries in your pelvis that cause severe discomfort in your legs when you walk.

The blockages may be so severe that your feet hurt even when you are resting (rest pain), or wounds develop on your legs because of lack of blood flow (in most serious cases causing gangrene or tissue death).

A surgical bypass reroutes blood flow around a diseased artery to increase blood flow to your legs. Surgical bypass is not a cure but it can resolve the symptoms when other treatments have not worked, or other less invasive surgical treatment (eg balloon angioplasty and stenting) are not suitable for you.

What is involved in a Surgical Bypass for Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease?

There are two main types of Surgical Bypass for Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease:

In an aortofemoral bypass:

  • A graft is used to connect your aorta and one or both femoral arteries in your pelvis to bypass a diseased vessel and increase blood flow to your legs.

  • An incision down the middle of your abdomen is made to access the aorta.

  • The graft is sewn into place above the blockage on the aorta and below the blockage on the femoral artery/ies using tiny stitches.

  • The tissue is then closed in layers over the graft in the abdomen and the groins.

In an axillofemoral or axillobifemoral bypass:

  • Instead of using the aorta as the source of blood flow, the axillary artery is used. The axillary artery routes blood from your neck to your arm.

  • An incision is made below the collarbone and in one or both groins.

  • A graft is sewn at the origin and destination points for the bypass using tiny stitches.

Time in surgery varies greatly, depending on weight, scar tissue and extent of disease. Recovery time depends on the size of incision and other personal health factors.

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 for Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease?

Surgical Bypass is a major procedure and 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 for Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease?

As with any surgery, you’ll probably feel pain at the site of the incision for some time after the operation. This may be several days to a few weeks. You will be given pain medication to be more comfortable.

After your recovery, you should be able to walk further or have less pain in your legs than before the surgery due to increased blood flow to the legs. Your surgeon will continue to monitor the bypass graft.

Have more questions about Surgical Bypass for Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease?

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