Peripheral Bypass Surgery
What is Peripheral Bypass Surgery?
Peripheral bypass surgery is a procedure that can improve the symptoms of peripheral artery disease. This disease occurs when your arteries can’t bring enough blood to your leg and foot muscles. During bypass surgery, your surgeon creates a new path for blood flow. Blood can then pass around the part of the artery that is narrowed or blocked. This procedure will ease the pain (claudication), muscle cramping, fatigue, and discomfort. At Nevada Vein and Vascular in Reno, NV we offer peripheral bypass surgery.
Medical Evaluation Before Bypass Surgery
If you are having symptoms of peripheral artery disease, may sure you let your doctor know. He or she will ask about your health history and will perform a full examination. Special tests such as ultrasound and arteriograms may be performed.
During the medical evaluation, your doctor will take your blood pressure and listen to the pulses in your legs and feet. Ultrasound tests will measure the force of the blood flowing in your leg arteries. This will help locate narrowed or blocked arteries. An arteriogram is used to plan surgery if needed. During an arteriogram, a special dye is injected through a needle in your artery. An x-ray is then taken to show the location and degree of a blockage.
How To Prepare for Peripheral Bypass Procedure
If you need bypass surgery, your surgeon will give you all of the steps in how to prepare for the procedure. Be sure to ask your surgeon any questions you may have. Before the bypass, you may be told to prepare in the following ways:
- At least 4 weeks before surgery, you may choose to donate your own blood. This is in case it’s needed during surgery.
- At least 3 weeks before surgery, stop smoking.
- Shortly before surgery, you may have an ECG or EKG, a chest x-ray, or a blood test. You may also need to limit certain medications.
- The day before surgery, take any medications your surgeon tells you to. Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight before surgery, or as instructed.
Types of Bypass Grafts
During a bypass, your surgeon attaches a graft to the blocked artery. A graft is a special tube that reroutes blood around a blockage. The graft can be a blood vessel from your body, or it can be manmade.
- Blood Vessel Graft – This graft often comes from the same leg where you will have the bypass. These grafts are used on arteries above or below the knee. Grafts are removed and prepared at the time of the bypass. In some cases, a leg vein is left in place and connected to the artery. An angioscope is used for this procedure.
- Manmade Graft – Manmade (synthetic) grafts are produced from materials that are easily accepted by your body. Those grafts work best on arteries at or above the knee.
The incision sites of the grafts will depend on where your blockage is, the type of graft used, and what’s best for you. The incisions are made on the inside of your leg. Three common types are:
- One long incision
- Several short incisions
- Two incisions
Types of Peripheral Bypasses
The type of bypass you have depends on where your leg artery is blocked. There are two common types of peripheral bypasses. One type is used for the upper part of the leg. The other is used for the lower part.
- Femoral Popliteal Bypass – Bypasses to the popliteal artery end behind the knee. Either your own vein or synthetic material may be used for the graft.
- Distal Bypass – Distal (lower leg) bypasses end below the knee. Either your own vein or a combined graft, made from your vein and synthetic material, may be used.
You surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and nurses will keep you pain-free and as safe as possible during the surgery. During the procedure, a graft is stitched into the artery above and below the blockage. This creates a new passage for blood flow. The blocked section of the artery is usually not removed. After the graft is in place, the incisions are closed with stitches or staples.
Recovery After Peripheral Bypass Surgery
After surgery, plan on being in the hospital about 3 to 8 days. The length of your stay depends on the type of bypass you have, your health, and your response to surgery.
Right after surgery, you will be watched closely in the recovery room. From there, you may go to an intensive care unit, if needed. Once you are stable you will be moved to a regular hospital room. Your leg may swell and be painful, but you will be given medication to control pain and prevent infection.
You will start walking soon. Wear slippers or shoes to protect your feet and elevate your leg whenever you are sitting. Tell a nurse right away if you have chest pain, foot pain, or shortness of breath. Also, let your surgeon know if your incision is draining or if you have constipation. Before going home, you may be taught to take the pulse in your leg.
You can leave the hospital when your surgeon says it is okay. Be sure to have someone drive you. If needed, you may spend time at an intermediate care facility. Once home, you can take action to recover faster.
Risks of Bypass Surgery
Every surgery has some risks. Your surgeon will talk with you about the risks of peripheral bypass surgery. They include:
- Bleeding or blood clots
- Heart attack or stroke
- Breathing problems
- Need for second bypass or surgery to remove dead tissue (amputation)
- Nerve damage and numbness
Schedule a Consultation
If you suffer from peripheral artery disease or the described symptoms, please contact Nevada Vein and Vascular. Call our office at 775-323-3000 to schedule a consultation with our vascular surgeons to see if peripheral bypass surgery is right for you. Our practice serves Reno, NV and surrounding areas.