​​​​​​I​n t​his Guide

If you've been scheduled for a Leg Bypass operation, you probably have some questions. Our guide offers the answers you're looking for, and helps you prepare for your operation.

About the Operation

A large blood vessel (artery) in your leg has become narrowed or blocked, so less blood and oxygen is getting to the tissues in that leg and foot. An operation is needed to restore blood flow to your leg and foot. Without the operation, your symptoms can become worse. Your leg may become numb or weak. You may develop infection or gangrene, and be at risk of losing your leg.​

A leg bypass operation creates a new tube for blood to flow to your leg and foot, bypassing (avoiding) the section of the artery that is narrow or blocked. The new tube is called a graft. A graft can be a vein from your leg or arm (if suitable) or a flexible, artificial tube.​

What types of operations can help?
Your femoral artery brings blood to your leg, foot and toes. Two types of an operation on this artery can help improve blood flow in the legs:

  • Repair: A narrow or blocked artery in the leg is cleaned out or repaired to improve blood flow. Your surgeon will make a cut in your leg near the blockage in your femoral artery and carefully take the plaque (buildup) off the walls. This will help your leg, foot and toes get blood. All cuts will be closed with stitches or staples.
  • ​Bypass: A new tube is made to make blood go around (bypass) the narrow or blocked section of the artery.

Leg Bypass

A leg bypass can be done in two ways:

  • Leg bypass
    An incision (cut) is made from your groin area to your knee or further down your leg. One end of the graft is attached to the artery at the top of your leg. The other end is attached to an artery in your lower leg. The blood now flows through the graft, instead of through the section of the artery that was narrow or blocked. Improving the blood flow to your foot can relieve pain and help to heal any open areas (ulcers) on your foot. This operation usually takes 3 to 4 hours. The graft is most often the patient's own vein, but could also be a synthetic graft.
  • Femorofemoral bypass
    Incisions (cuts) are made in your groin area. One end of the graft is attached to the main artery in your good leg. The other end is attached to the main artery in your bad leg. The blood now flows through the graft from your “good” leg to your “bad” leg, bypassing the blocked section of the artery. The artery in your good leg will supply blood to both legs.

To decide what type of operation is best for you, your surgeon will assess your symptoms, do a physical examination and review your medical history and the results of your tests.​

How long will I stay in the hospital?

How long you stay in hospital will depend on the type of operation you had and how well you are recovering. The usual hospital stay is 5 to 7 days.​

Download a printable version of the full guide:
Leg Bypass surgery or Repair to an Artery in your Leg​​​​