An aortofemoral bypass is a procedure to insert artificial tubes (grafts) above blocked iliac arteries and connect the ends of the graft to your femoral arteries.
Your aorta is a major artery that leaves your heart and allows oxygen and blood to flood freely throughout your body. About level with your naval (belly button) the aorta branches into two sections called iliac arteries. At both groin areas these arteries become your femoral arteries.
Over time, fatty deposits can build up on the wall of your aorta causing restricted flow and hardening of the arteries. Often patients complain of leg pain that increases when walking, cold feet or legs and ulcers on the feet and legs that do not heal.
An aortofemoral bypass is a procedure to insert artificial tubes (grafts) above the blocked artery and connect the ends of the graft to your femoral arteries. The graft looks like an upside down Y and allows blood to flow around the restriction into your lower limbs.
What happens during aortofemoral bypass?
This operation is performed under general anaesthetic and can take from 90 minutes to several hours.
Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) down your abdomen (stomach). They will also make smaller incisions in your groin areas. After clamping off the blood supply the top of the graft will be stitched to your aorta – just above the restricted area. They will thread the lower 2 ends of the graft through your groin areas and stitch these into place on your femoral arteries. The clamps will be removed and your surgeon will inspect all areas to ensure blood is freely flowing through the graft. You wounds will be closed with stitches or staples.
Immediately following your surgery you will be taken to a recovery area where we will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. You may have a small tube in a vein in your hand or arm. A catheter (tube) may also be in place to help you pass urine.
You will need to rest in bed for about 2 days. After a few days the drip and catheter will be removed and you will be encouraged to begin eating and drinking normally and to begin moving around on your own.
You may need to stay in hospital 7-10 days. Be sure and arrange for someone to drive you home on your day of discharge.
Going home after aortofemoral bypass
Continue to take and pain relief medication as directed. If you are given blood thinning medication to prevent blood clots it is important that you finish the entire prescription. Wear any compression hose as instructed.
Follow any activity restrictions recommended by your surgeon. It can take 6 weeks or more before you begin to resume normal daily activities. Discuss any return to work with your surgeon.
As with any medical procedure there could be complications such as:
- Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis)
Specific complications of this procedure may include:
- Blood clots in your lungs
- Failure of the graft
- Infection in the graft
- Fluid build-up under your wounds
- Nerve damage
- Erectile dysfunction (men)
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