Occlusive Disease Bypass Grafts

Bypass surgery, usually done through abdominal or leg incisions, depending upon the location of the blockage, creates a detour around the narrowed or blocked sections of your artery. Bypass grafts are devices used to bypass an occluded (blocked) portion of a blood vessel to return blood flow within the arteries to normal levels. Bypass grafts are made of many different materials and require periodic follow-up examinations to evaluate for thrombosis, stenosis, volume of flow and effectiveness.

Although bypass surgery is more invasive than an angioplasty or stent, it restores blood flow in about 85% of patients. Results are commonly maintained for 10 or more years.

Bypass surgery

Your arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside. As you age, your arteries can narrow or become blocked through a process called atherosclerosis, which means hardening of the arteries. During athersclerosis, a sticky substance called plaque can build up in the walls of your arteries.

During bypass surgery, your surgeon reroutes the blood flow in the blocked or narrowed artery around the blockage using a graft. A graft can be a portion of one of your veins or a synthetic tube that your surgeon connects above and below a blockage to allow blood to pass through it and around the blockage.

Learn more about upper extremity and lower extremity bypass surgical procedures and what to expect.

Angioplasty and stenting

This minimally invasive procedure requires only local anesthesia and intravenous sedation (relaxing medications).

During angioplasty, a long, thin tube, called a catheter, with a balloon attached to the end is inserted through an artery. Once the catheter reaches the blockage or narrowing, the balloon is inflated to widen the artery.

Sometimes, however, the use of the stent is also required. A stent is a tiny metal mesh tube is inserted to the point of blockage. Once positioned, it is expanded to keep the artery wall from re-narrowing. A stent is left permanently in the artery to provide a reinforced channel through which blood can flow.