The arteries which supply blood to the leg originate from the aorta and iliac vessels.
These arteries can become blocked with atherosclerotic plaque. Symptoms of such a blockage include pain, most frequently in the foot and calf, and ulcers and non-healing sores of the foot and leg.
Peripheral arterial bypass surgery is required for atherosclerotic lesions in the arteries of the leg. This surgery involves using a vein graft (saphenous vein), taken from the same leg, and suturing the vein into the artery to bypass the blockage. While the patient is anesthetized using general or spinal anesthesia, an incision is made in the inside of the leg from the groin to below the knee.
The vein is freed from the surrounding tissue, and then sewn into place in the artery, above and below the atherosclerotic blockage.
Patients usually are able to walk within a few days of surgery, and often experience relief from pain immediately. Lifestyle changes, such as dietary changes and stopping smoking, are critical to the long-term success of peripheral arterial bypass surgery.
Review Date: 5/5/2009
Reviewed By: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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