What is an arterial bypass graft?
Surgical bypass treats your narrowed arteries by directly creating a detour, or bypass, around a section of the artery that is blocked. Your arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside but they can become blocked through a process called atherosclerosis, which means hardening of the arteries. As you age, a sticky substance called plaque can build up in the walls of your arteries. Cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous tissue make up the plaque. As more plaque builds up, your arteries can narrow and stiffen. Eventually, as the process progresses, your blood vessels can no longer supply the oxygen demands of your organs or muscles, and symptoms may develop.
During a bypass procedure, your vascular surgeon creates a new pathway for blood flow using a graft. A graft can be a portion of one of your veins or a man-made synthetic tube. Your surgeon connects above and below a blockage to allow blood to pass through the graft and around the blockage.
You may be familiar with bypass surgery on heart arteries, but vascular surgeons also use similar bypasses to treat peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Surgeons use bypasses most commonly to treat blocked leg. Surgeons also use bypass to treat blocked shoulder and arm arteries, as well as blockages involving blood vessels in other locations in the body.
What is angioplasty and stenting?
During an angioplasty, your vascular surgeon inflates a small balloon inside a narrowed blood vessel. The balloon helps to widen your blood vessel and improve blood flow. After widening the vessel with angioplasty, your vascular surgeon sometimes inserts a stent depending upon the circumstances. Stents are tiny metal mesh tubes that support your artery walls to keep your vessels wide open.
What can I expect during the exam?
In addition to a complete duplex scan of the graft or stent and the inflow and outflow arteries, ankle and arm blood pressures may be measured using inflatable cuffs and an ultrasound Doppler flow detector.
A complete examination takes approximately 30 – 45 minutes. It is performed in a private room lying on an exam table. A technologist may place pressure cuffs on the arms, legs, and toes to perform the blood pressures of the extremities. For the arterial duplex exam, Images of the arteries will be taken using the ultrasound equipment. A transducer is placed on the extremity with a small amount of water soluble ultrasound gel.
- Allow 30 minutes for each arm or leg graft duplex exam.
- No smoking for at least 1 hour before the exam.
- Wear a loose collar or button-up shirt with short sleeves if your arms are to be examined.
- For leg exams, you will need to remove your pants, socks, and shoes during the visit.
Please call us with any questions or to schedule an appointment for Fort Myers bypass grafting: (239) 694-8346