What is a surgical bypass for atherosclerosis/PAD/PVD?
A surgical bypass reroutes blood flow around a blocked blood vessel by creating a new pathway for blood flow using a graft.
Why is this procedure performed? Why do I need this procedure?
The goal of treatment is to re-direct the blood flow in the artery to bypass a blockage. You may need this procedure if your arteries become too narrowed or blocked from plaque inside the artery walls. If arteries are blocked, blood cannot get through to nourish the tissues, causing the muscles of the lower extremities to cramp and lose strength. In severe cases, you may develop pain or develop ulcers on your feet.
Each patient is evaluated, and treatment will be individualized for the patient's circumstances.
Where is the procedure performed and who performs this procedure?
This procedure is performed in the hospital surgical suite by a vascular surgeon.
Before the Procedure
How do I find out if I am a candidate for this procedure?
To find out if you are a candidate for this procedure, please call the Vascular Surgery Department at 216.444.4508 or 800.223.2273 ext. 4-4508.
How do I prepare for the procedure?
A few days before the procedure, pre-procedure tests may be performed to ensure that it is safe to perform the surgery. You may need to discontinue certain medications before the procedure. Your health care team will provide specific instructions to help you prepare for the procedure.
During the Procedure
What happens during the procedure?
The surgical bypass will be performed under general anesthesia. To bypass the blockage, the surgeon makes a small opening just below the blockage in the diseased artery and places a graft, which is either a portion of one of your veins or a man-made synthetic tube. The surgeon will connect the graft above and below the blockage to allow blood around the blockage.
How long does the procedure last?
The procedure itself generally takes three to five hours, but the preparation and recovery time add several hours. The surgery may require a minimum hospital stay of four to seven days.
After the Procedure
What happens after the procedure?
Some patients require admission to an intensive care unit for close monitoring for about one to two days after the surgery, but this is not routine. Once the patient is transferred to the nursing unit, the hospital stay is about three to seven more days. Most patients will receive physical therapy during the recovery period. Your doctor will provide specific guidelines for your recovery.
Are there any side effects of the treatment?
As with any surgical procedure, you will feel somewhat tired for a few weeks. You will have mild pain along the incisions, and you may experience mild leg swelling.
Results of the procedure
Restoring blood flow by performing a surgical bypass usually provides good relief of symptoms. Your doctor will discuss the results of the procedure with you. However, unless a healthy lifestyle is adopted, atherosclerosis can recur.
Risks / Benefits
What are the risks and potential complications of the procedure?
Your doctor will discuss the specific risks and potential benefits of the recommended procedure with you.
Bypass surgery usually has no complications, but there may be a risk of injury to the blood vessel, mild leg swelling or wound complications. Your vascular surgeon will discuss the important risks and benefits with you.
Special precautions are taken to decrease these risks, and there may be other possible risks. When you meet with your doctor, please ask questions to make sure you understand the risks of the procedure and why the procedure is recommended. Read about outcomes for bypass surgery at Cleveland Clinic.
Doctors vary in quality due to differences in training and experience; hospitals differ in the number of services available. The more complex your medical problem, the greater these differences in quality become and the more they matter.
Clearly, the doctor and hospital that you choose for complex, specialized medical care will have a direct impact on how well you do. To help you make this choice, please review our Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Outcomes.
Cleveland Clinic Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Vascular Medicine Specialists and Surgeons
Choosing a doctor to treat your vascular disease depends on where you are in your diagnosis and treatment. The following Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Sections and Departments treat patients with all types of vascular disease, including blood clotting disorders:
Section of Vascular Medicine: for evaluation, medical management or interventional procedures to treat vascular disease. In addition, the Non-Invasive Laboratory includes state-of-the art computerized imaging equipment to assist in diagnosing vascular disease, without added discomfort to the patient. Call Vascular Medicine Appointments, toll-free 800-223-2273, extension 44420 or request an appointment online.
Department of Vascular Surgery: surgery evaluation for surgical treatment of vascular disease, including aorta, peripheral artery, and venous disease. Call Vascular Surgery Appointments, toll-free 800-223-2273, extension 44508 or request an appointment online.
IVC Filter Retrieval Clinic - to make an appointment, call Vascular Medicine at 216.444.4420. Ask for Dr. Bartholomew in the Filter Retrieval Clinic. Your appointment will include a consultation with Dr. Bartholomew and the physicians who will perform the IVC filter retrieval procedure.
You may also use our MyConsult second opinion consultation using the Internet.
The Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute also has specialized centers and clinics to treat certain populations of patients:
Learn more about experts who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular and arterial disease.
- See About Us to learn more about the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute.
If you need more information, click here to contact us, chat online with a nurse or call the Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Resource & Information Nurse at 216.445.9288 or toll-free at 866.289.6911. We would be happy to help you.
Becoming a Patient
- Aortic Aneurysm
- May Thurner Syndrome
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Vein and Vascular
- All Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Treatment Guides
Diagnostic tests are used to diagnose your abnormal heartbeat and the most effective treatment method.
Our webchats and video chats give patients and visitors another opportunity to ask questions and interact with our physicians.
- Vascular Disease, Peripheral Arterial Disease & Thrombosis webchats and video chats
- All Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute webchats
- Vascular Disease and Treatments Videos
- All Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Videos
- Recovery at home
- Support Groups and Information
- Visit Health Essentials - Read articles on vascular disorders and healthy living on Health Essentials
- Follow Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute webchats and news stories on Twitter*
- Subscribe to Heart, Vascular & Thoracic eNews
- American Stroke Association *
- American Heart Association *
- Vascular Cures*
- VascularWeb - Resources for Vascular Disease and Treatment*
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