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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Aortofemoral bypass is surgery to place a graft to go around your blocked or damaged aorta. The aorta is a large blood vessel that carries blood and oxygen from your heart to your body. Your aorta splits into 2 smaller blood vessels called femoral arteries in your abdomen. These arteries carry blood and oxygen to your pelvis and your legs. The graft may be from a blood vessel in your arm or leg, or it may be man-made.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE:
Before your surgery:
- Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
- An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
- Blood thinners or antibiotics may be given before your surgery. Blood thinners help prevent clots from forming in your blood. Antibiotics help prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
- General anesthesia is used to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. They may give you anesthesia through your IV. You may breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.
During your surgery:
- An incision will be made in your groin near your femoral artery. Another incision will be made in your abdomen near your aorta. If your own vein will be used as the graft, an incision will be made in your lower leg or arm and a vein will be removed.
- One end of a graft is sewn to your aorta just above the blockage. The other end will be sewn to the femoral artery below the blockage. Blood will then flow through the graft and around the blocked area. Your incisions will be closed with stitches or staples.
After your surgery:
You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.
- Deep breathing and coughing will decrease your risk for a lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath, then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour.
- You may get out of bed and walk around the same day of surgery. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed on your own until your caregiver says you can. Talk to caregivers before you get up the first time. They may need to help you stand up safely. When you are able to get up on your own, sit or lie down right away if you feel weak or dizzy.
- Pain medicine will help decrease your pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine. You may get pain medicine through an IV or an epidural line attached to a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) pump. Caregivers set the pump to let you give yourself small amounts of pain medicine when you push a button. Your pump may also give you a constant amount of medicine, in addition to the medicine that you give yourself. Let caregivers know if your pain is still bad even with the pain medicine.
- Aspirin may be given to help thin the blood to keep blood clots from forming. This medicine makes it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
- Heart medicines may be given to help regulate your heartbeat and blood pressure.
- You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Your new graft may narrow, become blocked, and get infected. The blood flow to your legs and feet may become blocked again. You may need more surgery. Graft failure may increase your risk of a leg or foot amputation. You may get a blood clot that travels to your heart or lungs. This can be life-threatening.
- If you do not have surgery, the blood flow to your legs and feet will get worse. You may develop difficulty walking. You may get sores on your foot that do not heal, or the skin tissue may die. If the sores or dead skin become infected, you may need to have part of your leg or foot amputated. Without surgery, your risk is greater for life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack.
CARE AGREEMENT:You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.