Peripheral arterial disease is a condition in which the arteries of the legs become narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits, which can severely limit the flow of blood to the lower parts of the leg leading to symptoms of pain, and reduced mobility.
In most cases prior to surgery, a number of lifestyle and dietary modifications will be advocated in an attempt to improve the symptoms of peripheral arterial disease. In a small number of cases, surgery may be recommended in order to improve the blood supply to the lower legs (revascularisation). This is usually reserved for those with very severe symptoms, and those who have failed to respond to conservative measures.
In bypass surgery (revascularisation), blood is diverted either from the same vessel at a point above the blockage or from a different blood vessel to a point below the blockage, thus restoring blood flow at this point.
This typically involves a cut at the point where the blood is being diverted from, as well as one at a point where the blood is being diverted to.
Bypass surgery may involve either a man-made synthetic tube, or ideally where possible a section of your vein either from the same leg or opposite leg. Where this is possible, you will also have a cut over the length of the section of vein being taken, similar to that seen in heart bypass surgery.
Recovery after arterial bypass surgery can take some time. Usually you can expect to be home after 7-10 days, but there is usually a period of rehabilitation required. Most people will notice a significant improvement in their symptoms almost immediately, but it is important to consider the major risks involved in arterial bypass surgery. These would be discussed with you at length prior to agreement to any intervention.
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