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Learning About Femoral-Tibial Bypass Surgery for Peripheral Arterial Disease

Grafted blood vessel that goes around a blockage

What is femoral-tibial bypass surgery?

Femoral-tibial bypass is surgery to bypass diseased blood vessels in the lower leg or foot. The surgery is most often done to help with severe pain or help heal foot sores caused by bad blood circulation.

Your doctor uses a graft to bypass the blocked area of the blood vessel. The graft is most often a vein taken from another place in your leg. Sometimes the graft is a man-made blood vessel. The graft will carry blood from the femoral artery in your groin to the tibial artery in your lower leg or foot.

This surgery is also known as infra-popliteal reconstruction.

How is the surgery done?

You will be asleep during the surgery, or you will be given medicine to numb your lower body and prevent pain.

The doctor will make cuts (incisions) in your skin above and below the area where the blockage occurs. If one of your veins is being used for a graft, the doctor will make another cut in your leg to remove the vein.

The doctor then connects one end of the graft to the femoral artery above the blocked area. The other end of the graft is connected to the tibial artery in your lower leg or foot, below the blocked area. After the graft is in place and blood is flowing through it, the doctor will close the cuts in your skin with stitches or staples.

What can you expect after the surgery?

You may need to stay in the hospital for 3 to 5 days.

You will have some pain from the cuts (incisions) the doctor made. This usually gets better after about 1 week. You can expect your leg to be swollen at first. This is a normal part of recovery and may last 2 or 3 months.

You will need to take it easy for at least 2 to 6 weeks at home. It may take 6 to 12 weeks to fully recover.

You will probably need to take at least 2 to 6 weeks off from work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.

You will have regular tests to check for problems with the graft.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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