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Femoropopliteal Bypass

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about a femoropopliteal bypass?

Femoropopliteal bypass is surgery to place a graft to go around narrowed arteries in your upper leg. The graft may be from a blood vessel in your arm or leg, or it may be artificial. A femoropopliteal bypass can improve blood flow to your leg and foot, and decrease your symptoms.

How do I prepare for surgery?

  • Your surgeon will tell you how to prepare. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. Arrange to have someone drive you home when you are discharged.
  • Tell your surgeon about all medicines you take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of surgery.
  • You may need blood tests before your surgery. You may also need tests to check the blood flow in your legs.

What will happen during surgery?

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given regional anesthesia to numb your leg. You will be awake during surgery if you have regional anesthesia. You may feel pressure or pushing during surgery, but you should not feel pain.
  • An incision will be made in your groin near your femoral artery. Another incision will be made above or below your knee near your popliteal artery. Your surgeon will make a tunnel under your skin and muscles between the 2 incisions. The tunnel is where the graft will be placed.
  • An incision may be made in your lower leg or arm to remove a vein. The vein or artificial graft will be placed in the tunnel. One end will be sewn to the femoral artery above the blockage. The other end will be sewn to the popliteal artery below the blockage. Blood will then flow around the blocked area. Your incisions will be closed with stitches or staples.

What should I expect after surgery?

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you will be taken to a hospital room.

  • You will be helped to walk around after surgery. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Talk to healthcare providers 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.
  • 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.
  • Medicines may be given to control pain. Aspirin may be given to help thin the blood to keep blood clots from forming. You may bleed more easily while you are taking aspirin.

What are the risks of a femoropopliteal bypass?

You may bleed more than expected or develop an infection. You may continue to have long-term pain and swelling in the treated leg. Your new graft may narrow, become blocked, or get infected. You may need more surgery. Graft failure increases your risk of a leg or foot amputation. You may develop a life-threatening blood clot.

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

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