Femoropopliteal Bypass Surgery
(Leg Artery Bypass Surgery)
by Editorial Staff and Contributors
In this surgery, the patient's vein or an artificial tube is used to create a bypass around a blocked main leg artery. The blocked arteries in the legs are usually caused by a buildup of plaque. When this buildup occurs, it is called peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
Reasons for Procedure
Possible Complications TOP
If you are planning to have femoropopliteal bypass surgery, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor will likely do the following:
Leading up to the surgery:
You may be given:
Description of the Procedure
The doctor will make a cut in the skin on the leg. Through this cut, the doctor will take out a vein that will be used to make the bypass. If the vein cannot be used, then an artificial vein is used.
Next, an incision will be made in the groin to expose the femoral artery. This is the artery in the thigh. The doctor will make another incision at the back of the knee to expose another artery. This is called the popliteal artery.
The doctor will use clamps to block the flow of blood through these two arteries. One end of the new bypass vein will be stitched into the femoral artery, and the other end will be stitched into the popliteal artery. Once attached, blood will be passed through the graft to check for leaks. If leaks are found, the doctor will repair them. The clamps will then be removed. This will allow blood to flow through the graft to the lower leg. The doctor will use stitches to close the incisions.
In some cases, a vein in the thigh will be used as a graft while left in place. This is called in situ. In this procedure, the valves inside the vein will be removed with a small scope and a small cutting tool. The vein will then be attached to the arteries to form a graft.
Immediately After Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
As you heal and the swelling in your leg subsides, you may have pain for weeks or even months. Ask your doctor about medicine to help with the pain. Keep in mind that it is normal for your leg to remain swollen for 2-3 months.
Average Hospital Stay
At the Hospital
While you are recovering at the hospital, you may be instructed to:
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Call Your Doctor TOP
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
MacVittie B. Mosby's Perioperative Nursing Series: Vascular Surgery. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 1998.
Rothrock JC, Smith DA, et al. Alexander's Care of the Patient in Surgery. 11th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 1999.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Last Updated: 11/26/2012