Sometimes keyhole surgery with balloons and stents is not possible, or not the best option in your particular case. Open bypass surgery is an alternative for people who are suffering from narrowing or blockages of the arteries associated with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). The first bypass procedure for blockages of the leg arteries was performed in France in 1948. It is a tried and tested operation that has good long term results.
The surgical procedure is known as ‘open bypass surgery’ or can be named more specifically based on the arteries that are being bypassed - most commonly the femoral to popliteal artery bypass ('fem-pop'), aorta to both femoral artery bypass ('aorto-bifem') or femoral to tibial artery bypass ('fem-tib').
It involves a new tube or ‘graft’ being inserted to create a detour from a healthy artery, above the section of artery which has become narrow or blocked, to a healthy artery below.
This graft is usually a section of superficial vein removed from the same leg, through the same wound but may be from another part of the body, or may also be a synthetic material.
Once this is completed, blood flow to the affected limb is restored and symptoms such as chronic ulcers or muscle pain in the affected leg after physical activity should disappear.
The procedure is conducted under a general anaesthetic and normally takes 2-3 hours.
After the surgery, a hospital stay of three days to a week is generally necessary until you are able to walk comfortably.