Peripheral artery bypass - leg


Peripheral artery bypass is surgery to reroute the blood supply around a blocked artery in one of your legs. Your peripheral arteries can become blocked with fatty material that builds up inside them. This is called atherosclerosis.

See also:

Alternative Names

Aortobifemoral bypass; Femoropopliteal; Femoral popliteal; Aorta-bifemoral bypass; Axillo-bifemoral bypass; Ilio-bifemoral bypass; Femoral-femoral bypass; Distal leg bypass


Peripheral artery bypass surgery can be done in one or more of these arteries to treat a blockage:

During bypass surgery of any artery:

If you are having aortoiliac (to treat your aorta and iliac artery) or aortobifemoral (to treat your aorta and both femoral arteries) bypass surgery:

If you are having femoral popliteal bypass surgery (to treat your lower leg):

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Symptoms of a blocked peripheral artery are pain, achiness, or heaviness in your leg that starts or gets worse when you walk.

You may not need bypass surgery if these problems happen only when you walk and then go away when you rest. You may not need this surgery if you can still do most of your everyday activities. Your doctor can try medicines and other treatments first.

Reasons for having arterial bypass surgery of the leg are:

Before surgery is considered, the doctor will order special tests to show that you have a severe blockage in your blood vessels.


Risks for any anesthesia are:

Risks for any surgery are:

Risks for this surgery are:

Before the Procedure

Your doctor will do a thorough physical exam and several medical tests.

Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.

During the 2 weeks before your surgery:

Do NOT drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery, including water.

On the day of your surgery:

After the Procedure

Right after surgery, you will go to the recovery room, where nurses will watch you closely. After that you will go either to the intensive care unit (ICU) or a regular hospital room.

When your doctor says it is okay, you will be allowed to get out of bed. You will slowly increase how far you can walk. When you are sitting in a chair, keep your legs raised on a stool or another chair.

Your doctor and nurse will check your pulses regularly after your surgery. Your pulse rate will show whether your new bypass graft is working well. While you are in the hospital, tell your nurse or doctor right away if the leg that had surgery feels cool, looks pale or pink, feels numb, or if you have any other new symptoms.

You will receive pain medicine if you need it.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Bypass surgery improves blood flow in the arteries for most people. You may not have symptoms anymore, even when you walk. If you still have symptoms, you should be able to walk much farther before they start.

Your results will depend on where your blockage was, the size of the blood vessel, and whether you have a blockage in your other arteries.


Creager MA and Libby P. Peripheral arterial disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Libby: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Saunders; 2007:chap 57.

Eisenhauer AC, White CJ. Endovascular treatment of noncoronary obstructive vascular disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 59.

Review Date: 1/25/2011
Reviewed By: Shabir Bhimji, MD, PhD, Specializing in General Surgery, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Midland, TX. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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