Bypass surgery is one of many treatments for peripheral artery disease (PAD). It may be performed when medications and lifestyle are ineffective at reducing symptoms of PAD such as leg pain when you walk (known as claudication).
At The Center for Vascular Care at HCA, we can evaluate the severity of your PAD and determine whether bypass surgery is right for you. Our objective will always be to perform the least invasive procedure possible to enhance blood flow. There will be times when it may be impossible to treat a blockage with balloons and stents. This is when bypass surgery may be necessary. Here’s more about how this treatment works and how to contact The Center for Vascular Care at HCA when you’re ready to consult with a specialist.
What Is Bypass Surgery?
Most patients will require an arteriogram to identify the extent and location of the blockages in their arteries. Bypass surgery for PAD involves rerouting the blood supply around an artery that is narrowed or blocked. To do this, your surgeon will use either a healthy blood vessel from another part of your body or a synthetic, manmade graft.
Why Is Bypass Surgery Performed?
Severe cases of PAD can make it extremely difficult to walk due to symptoms including leg numbness and weakness, cramping, and pain and discomfort when doing everyday activities. Bypass surgery for PAD can restore your ability to walk normally and comfortably and improve your quality of life.
Other reasons why you might need bypass surgery are if:
- Medications do not effectively reduce your PAD symptoms.
- You have a near-complete blockage in a long, narrow part of an artery in the leg or arm.
- You have slow-healing wounds.
- You experience pain in your leg when walking or in your foot at night.
- You have dead tissue or gangrene in the affected limb.
How Can Bypass Surgery Treat PAD?
PAD occurs when vessels that carry blood from the heart to the arms or legs become narrowed or blocked, which prevents these extremities from receiving adequate blood supply. These blood vessels become narrowed or blocked due to atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of fatty deposits (known as plaque) in the arteries.
Blood vessels that become severely blocked can lead to claudication and more serious complications, including gangrene, and amputation. Bypass surgery can treat PAD and prevent complications such as these by rerouting blood around the affected vessels and restoring blood flow to the limbs.
How Is Bypass Surgery Performed?
Bypass surgery is usually performed at a hospital. The procedure lasts between two and six hours and requires a hospital stay of at least two days.
First, you will be given anesthesia so you can sleep and avoid feeling pain during the surgery. Incisions are then made over the artery where we identified good blood flow and over the target artery where we want to bring the blood beyond the blocked arteries. Additional incisions may be necessary depending on whether we are using the person’s own vein or a synthetic graft.
Next, your surgeon will make connections at each end by sewing the graft in place. After making sure the graft has successfully rerouted your blood supply, and good blood flow is restored, your incisions will be closed. You will then be taken to a recovery room, where you can be closely monitored by nurses as you wake up and become stabilized.
What Are the Risks and Complications of Bypass Surgery?
Bypass surgery for PAD comes with risks and complications like any other medical procedure. Common risks associated with anesthesia and any type of surgery include allergic reactions to medications, breathing problems, heart attack, and stroke.
Potential risks and complications specific to bypass surgery for PAD include:
- Wound infection
- Blood clots
- Excess bleeding
- Damage to nearby nerves
- Damage to nearby organs
- Complete or partial blockage of another blood vessel
- Failed bypass and the need for a second operation
- Eventual limb amputation
Factors that may increase your risk for complications from bypass surgery include smoking, diabetes, lung disease, a history of bypass surgery, and advanced age. Your surgeon can talk to you in greater detail about the possible risks and complications associated with bypass surgery and help you make an informed decision.
If you have PAD and want to learn more about bypass surgery, our team at The Center for Vascular Care at HCA can discuss this procedure with you in more detail. We can provide you with all the resources you need to take control of your heart health.
Contact us today at (908) 806-0190 to request an appointment, during which you can receive a personalized diagnosis with one of our specialists and learn more about your treatment options.