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Aortobifemoral Bypass for Peripheral Arterial Disease

Surgery Overview

Aortobifemoral bypass surgery is used to bypass diseased large blood vessels in the abdomen and groin.

To bypass the blocked blood vessel, blood is redirected through a graft made of synthetic material (such as polytetrafluoroethylene [PTFE] or Dacron). This graft is sewn above and below the diseased artery so that blood flows through the graft. These man-made grafts are more likely to be used than transplanted natural grafts for aortobifemoral surgery, because the blood vessels involved are large.

The artificial blood vessel is formed into a Y shape. The single end of the Y is sewn on the aorta. The two split ends of the Y are sewn below the blocked or narrowed areas of the femoral arteries. This allows the blood to travel around (bypass) the diseased areas.

General anesthesia is used and will cause you to sleep through the procedure.

What To Expect After Surgery

You will likely stay in the hospital 4 to 7 days. And you can expect your belly and groin to be sore for several weeks. You will probably feel more tired than usual for several weeks.

You may be able to do many of your usual activities after 4 to 6 weeks. But you will likely need 2 to 3 months to fully recover, especially if you typically do a lot of physical activities.

You will probably need to take at least 4 to 6 weeks off from work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.

Why It Is Done

Aortobifemoral bypass surgery is for people who have blocked blood vessels (aorta or iliac arteries) in the abdomen and pelvis. The blockage usually must be causing significant symptoms or be limb-threatening before bypass surgery is considered.

How Well It Works

Aortobifemoral bypass grafts stay open about 90% of the time for at least 5 years.1

Risks

All surgeries carry a certain amount of risk. These risks include:

  • Infection from the incision.
  • Bleeding.
  • Heart attack or stroke.

Specific risks for aortobifemoral bypass surgery include:

  • Leg swelling.
  • Failed or blocked grafts.
  • Sexual dysfunction caused by nerve damage in the pelvis.

What To Think About

Some people want to try lifestyle changes before having this surgery. Making these changes could help you walk without pain. And lifestyle changes don't have the risks of bypass surgery.

Click here to view a Decision Point. Peripheral Arterial Disease: Should I Have Surgery?

Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

References

Citations

  1. Hirsch AT, et al. (2006). ACC/AHA 2005 practice guidelines for the management of patients with peripheral arterial disease (lower extremity, renal, mesenteric, and abdominal aortic): A collaborative report from the American Association for Vascular Surgery/Society for Vascular Surgery, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, Society for Vascular Medicine and Biology, So

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer David A. Szalay, MD - Vascular Surgery
Last Revised October 14, 2011

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