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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Femoropopliteal bypass surgery is done when the blood flow to your leg is decreased or blocked. The femoral artery is the main blood vessel in your thigh. Blood flows from the femoral artery into the popliteal artery, which is behind your knee. These arteries carry blood and oxygen to your legs. When your femoral artery is narrowed or blocked, you have less blood flowing to your leg. This is often caused by a disease called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis happens when fat or cholesterol (plaque) builds up on the insides of your artery walls.
- A blocked femoral artery may cause pain when you move your leg, or when you are at rest. You may develop ulcers (sores) on your foot that do not heal. The skin on your toes or foot may turn very dark or black. During femoropopliteal bypass, a graft is used to create a new blood flow pathway to your leg. A graft is a tube used to replace your blood vessel. Your graft may be a healthy blood vessel from your leg or arm, or a man-made graft. Femoropopliteal bypass can improve the blood flow to your leg and foot, and lower your risk for ulcers. Femoropopliteal bypass may also decrease your symptoms, such as leg pain making it easier to do your daily activities.
- Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
- Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
- Aspirin: This medicine 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.
- 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 blood tests after your surgery. You may need many follow-up visits with your caregiver to check for problems with your graft. Tell your caregiver about any new symptoms you are having. Your caregiver will check the pulses (heartbeats) in your legs and feet. If your pulses are weak, you may need an angiography to check your blood flow. An ankle-brachial index, Doppler ultrasound, or other tests may also be needed to check blood flow. Ask your caregiver for more information about these or other tests you may need after your surgery.
Ask your caregiver how often and how far you should walk each day. Walking helps prevent blood clots and decreases your risk for a lung infection. Also ask your caregiver when you can return to work or your other daily activities.
Deep breathing and coughing:
Deep breathing and coughing help keep you from getting a lung infection after surgery. Deep breathing opens the airways going to your lungs. Coughing helps bring up sputum (mucus) 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 you cough 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 need to use an incentive spirometer to help 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.
Do not smoke:
Smoking harms the heart, lungs, and the blood. Smoking increases the risk of your graft becoming blocked, and your bypass surgery failing. You are also more likely to have a heart attack, lung disease, and cancer if you smoke. Ask your caregiver how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.
Elevate your legs:
Elevate (raise) and rest your legs to help decrease any swelling you may have. Try to keep your legs raised whenever you sit or lie down.
Manage your other medical conditions:
Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol increase your risk for atherosclerosis. Managing these conditions may decrease your risk for another blockage in your arteries. You may recover more quickly from your bypass surgery and lower your risk for a heart attack or stroke. Ask your caregiver for more information about managing your medical conditions.
Bathe or shower with soap and water, then gently pat your wound dry with a towel. Talk to your caregiver for more information about how to care for your wound.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have a fever.
- Your wound is swollen, warm, red, or has pus coming from it.
- You are not able to eat, you have nausea (upset stomach), or you are vomiting (throwing up).
- You have diarrhea (loose or watery bowel movements).
- You have new pain, or your leg or foot pain suddenly gets worse.
- You have new ulcers (sores) on your legs or feet, or an old ulcer is not healing.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery, medicine, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You have bleeding, such as a nosebleed that does not stop.
- You are urinating less than usual, or not at all.
- Your toes or foot suddenly become cold, darker in color, or pale (loss of color).
- 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 leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You have signs of a stroke: The following signs are an emergency. Call 911 immediately if you have any of the following:
- Weakness or numbness in your arm, leg, or face (may be on only one side of your body)
- Confusion and problems speaking or understanding speech
- A very bad headache that may feel like the worst headache of your life
- Not being able to see out of one or both of your eyes
- Feeling too dizzy to stand
- 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
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