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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 a narrowed or 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 may 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 narrowed or blocked blood vessels (aorta or iliac arteries) in the abdomen and pelvis. Usually the disease must be causing significant symptoms or be limb-threatening before bypass surgery is considered.

How Well It Works

Bypass surgery can restore blood flow and relieve intermittent claudication. 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

Your doctor may recommend that you try an exercise program and medicine before he or she recommends that you have this surgery.

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

Complete the surgery information form (PDF)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, Society of Interventional Radiology, and the ACC/AHA Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Writing Committee to Develop Guidelines for the Management of Patients With Peripheral Arterial Disease): Endorsed by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Society for Vascular Nursing; TransAtlantic Inter-Society Consensus; and Vascular Disease Foundation. Circulation, 113(11): e463–e654.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
David A. Szalay, MD - Vascular Surgery
Last Revised October 26, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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