Bypass Surgery

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 blocked part of the artery. Usually this is achieved through two or three small incisions in the leg. Sometimes, we use a section of the patient’s own vein as the bypass; other times we use a synthetic graft.

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 long-term success after bypass surgery.

After surgery, patients are monitored with surveillance ultrasound scans, which help to detect any re-narrowing in the arteries or in the bypass and ensure that the bypass stays open. Risks of bypass surgery include: heart or lung issues, bleeding, infection, wound healing issues, chronic swelling, and numbness.