Learning About Aortobifemoral Bypass Surgery for Peripheral Arterial Disease

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Abdominal and femoral arteries with detail of a blockage and a graft.

What is aortobifemoral bypass surgery?

An aortobifemoral (say "ay-OR-toh-by-FEM-uh-ruhl") bypass is surgery to redirect blood flow around narrowed or blocked blood vessels in your belly or pelvis. Your doctor will use a human-made blood vessel, called a graft, to bypass the narrowed or blocked blood vessels. These diseased blood vessels are caused by peripheral arterial disease. The surgery is done to get more blood flow to the legs.

How is the surgery done?

You will be asleep during the surgery.

The doctor will make cuts (incisions) in your belly and in the groin area of each thigh. The doctor will connect the graft to the aorta through the cut in the belly. The doctor will then tunnel the graft down to the cuts in your groin. This connects the bypass to your femoral arteries.

When the graft is in place, the doctor will close the cuts in your skin with stitches or staples.

What can you expect after this surgery?

You may spend several days in the hospital. Your belly and groin will 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.

You may 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.

You will have regular tests to check for problems with the graft.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.