A bypass is a surgery used to treat blockages in arteries or arterial aneurysms. A tube (graft) is tunneled through the leg and sewn into the artery above the blockage and the artery below the blockage, to create a detour around the occluded segment. Usually this is achieved through two or three small incisions in the leg. Sometimes, we use the patient’s own vein as the bypass; other times we use a synthetic graft made of Goretex.
A bypass usually takes two to three hours. It is performed under a light general anesthetic or a spinal anesthetic. Patients typically stay in the hospital a day or two after surgery. Most people take aspirin after the procedure; other patients are advised to take a blood thinner. This helps to keep the bypass open. Maintaining good control of risk factors (watching blood pressure and cholesterol, managing diabetes, not smoking) maximizes the chance of longterm success after bypass surgery.
After surgery, patients are monitored with surveillance ultrasound scans, which help to detect any re-narrowings in the arteries or in the bypass and help to ensure that the bypass stays open. Risks of bypass surgery include: heart or lung issues, bleeding, infection, wound healing issues, chronic swelling, and numbness.