Normally, the arteries have a smooth surface inside to promote unobstructed flow of blood. A sticky plaque made up of cholesterol, calcium or fibrous tissue starts building up on the inner walls of your artery, as you age. The accumulation of these atherosclerotic plaques in the artery makes it stiff and hard. Eventually the blood flow is blocked due to atherosclerosis resulting in decreased supply of oxygen to your organs and muscles. This condition can be successfully treated with surgical bypass. Surgical bypass involves treating your narrowed arteries by rerouting around a section of the artery that is blocked.
Surgical bypass is usually performed in patients who are not good candidates for angioplasty or who have found angioplasty to be ineffective. It is a good treatment option for atherosclerosis.
Before surgery, your physician checks your general health, medical history, and symptoms. You will have to undergo a physical examination and you may be ordered for a blood test to determine your cholesterol levels. In addition to this, duplex ultrasound, magnetic resonance angiography or computerized tomographic angiography may be recommended to determine the extent of blockage.
During bypass surgery, you will receive anaesthesia so that you do not feel any pain. Your surgeon will make an incision over the artery that is blocked. The clamps will be placed at each end of the blocked section of artery. The graft is then sutured in place. The doctor will make sure that the alignment is correct without any leakage, blood flows properly and the graft is working fine. Your surgeon then stitches the incision firmly. After surgery, you might have to stay for 3-10 days in the hospital for monitoring. You should contact your physician immediately if you develop a fever, a cold painful arm or leg, or if the incision area becomes red or swollen. You may have to follow a strict diet and take prescribed medications regularly. You can resume your physical activities only as per your doctor’s advice. You will be asked to meet your doctor for follow-up visits.
As with any surgical procedure, surgical bypass carries some minor risks such as swelling, bleeding at the incision site, wound healing problems and infection.