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.

What happens during the procedure?

The surgical bypass will be performed under general anesthesia. To bypass the blockage, the surgeon makes a small opening above and below the blockage in the diseased vein and connects a graft, which is a portion of a normal vein taken from another site in the body, to these openings. This reroutes the blood through the bypass 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.

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. Most patients will require anticoagulation in the post-operative period, and many will require long-term anticoagulation with medications such as Coumadin. The exact duration of anticoagulation therapy is patient specific and will be determined by your surgeon.

Your doctor will provide specific guidelines for your recovery.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/10/2019.

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