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Aortofemoral Bypass


  • Aortofemoral bypass is surgery to repair your blocked or damaged aorta. The aorta is a large blood vessel that leaves your heart and carries blood and oxygen to your body. Your aorta travels down your abdomen and splits into two smaller blood vessels called femoral arteries. These arteries carry blood and oxygen to your pelvis and into your legs. You may need this surgery if you have blood vessel disease or an aortic aneurysm (a bulging, weakened area of the vessel wall). You may also need aortofemoral bypass surgery if you have claudication or lower leg ulcers. Claudication occurs when you have pain and tiredness in certain leg muscles when you are active. Aortofemoral bypass surgery may also be needed after a kidney transplant to improve the blood flow to the new kidney.
  • During surgery, a graft is attached to your aorta to go around the blocked area of the vessel. The graft connects your aorta to one or both of your femoral arteries. A graft is a tube used to replace your blood vessel. Your graft may be man-made or a healthy blood vessel from your leg may also be used. Aortofemoral bypass may improve the blood flow to your legs and feet, and decrease your risk for ulcers. Aortofemoral bypass may also decrease your symptoms such as leg pain making it easier to do your daily activities.


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Aspirin to stop blood clots: Aspirin helps thin the blood to keep blood clots from forming. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead. Do not take more or less aspirin than directed. This medicine makes it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

  • You may need follow-up blood tests after your surgery. Your caregiver will need to check the pulses in your legs and feet. If your pulses are weak, you may need an angiography to check your blood flow. An ankle-brachial index, duplex ultrasound, or other testing may also be needed to check your blood flow. Ask your caregiver for more information about these or other tests you may need.


Ask your caregiver about how often and how far you should walk each day. Walking may help prevent blood clots and decrease your risk for a lung infection. Also ask your caregiver when it will be OK to return to work or your other daily activities.

Deep breathing and coughing:

Deep breathing and coughing helps keep you from getting a lung infection after surgery. Deep breathing opens the airways going to your lungs. Coughing helps to bring up sputum from your lungs for you to spit out. You should breathe deeply and cough every hour while you are awake.

  • Hold a pillow tightly against your wound when you cough to help decrease the pain. Take a deep breath and hold the breath as long as you can. Then push the air out of your lungs with a deep, strong cough. Put any sputum that you have coughed up into a tissue. Take 10 deep breaths in a row every hour while you are awake. Remember to follow each deep breath with a cough.
  • You may be asked to use an incentive spirometer. This helps you take deeper breaths. Put the plastic piece into your mouth and take a very deep breath. Hold your breath as long as you can. Then let out your breath. Use your spirometer every hour while you are awake.

Wound care:

Follow your caregiver's instructions on how to clean your wound and change your bandage. Do not remove your bandage unless your caregiver says it is OK.


If you smoke, it is never too late to quit smoking. Smoking harms the heart, lungs, and the blood. You are more likely to have a heart attack, lung disease, and cancer if you smoke. You will help yourself and those around you by not smoking. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble stopping.


  • You have a fever .
  • You have swelling or pain in your groin.
  • You see color changes in your feet or toes.
  • You have questions about your procedure, condition, or care.


  • Your wound will not stop bleeding.
  • Call 911 or an ambulance if you have any signs of a heart attack:
    • Discomfort in the center of your chest that feels like squeezing, pressure, fullness, or pain, that lasts for more than a few minutes or keeps returning
    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or one or both of your arms
    • Feeling sick to your stomach
    • Having trouble breathing
    • A sudden cold sweat, particularly in combination with chest discomfort or trouble breathing
    • Feeling very lightheaded or dizzy, particularly in combination with chest discomfort or trouble breathing
  • You have sudden, painful color changes in your toes to blue or black.
  • You have very bad groin pain that does not get better with medicine.
  • You have increased swelling in your groin that feels like it has a heartbeat.
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.