In a bypass, artificial tubes (grafts) are placed near a section of the blood vessel that is blocked or narrowed. The graft creates a path so that blood can move around the blockage. In this case, the grafts are placed on the aorta and the iliac or femoral arteries.

The aorta is the major artery that leaves the heart. It brings oxygen-rich blood to the body. At about the level of the belly button, the aorta divides into two iliac arteries. At the level of the groin, the iliac arteries become the femoral arteries.

Aortofemoral bypass is also called aorto bi femoral bypass. This is because the graft is formed in the shape of an upside down "y."

Most bypass surgery involves a traditional, open incision. Research is being done on how to do these operations through laparoscopic or mini-laparotomy techniques. They use much smaller incisions.

Aortofemoral Bypass Graft
Aorta Femoral Bypass
Artificial grafts create a path so that blood can move around the blockage.
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To have good blood flow to the lower part of the body, there must be good blood flow through the aorta, the iliac arteries, and the femoral arteries. Atherosclerosis is a disease in which sticky patches (plaques) build up along the walls of blood vessels. These plaques block the normal flow of blood within affected blood vessels. When the blood flow is decreased, the tissues on the other side of the blockage do not receive enough oxygen. This can result in the following:

  • Pain that increases the longer you walk or exercise (called intermittent claudication)
  • Cold feet or legs
  • Scaly, dry, reddened, itchy, or brown skin on the legs or feet
  • Nonhealing and/or infected sores (ulcers) on your legs or feet
  • Gangrene
  • The need for amputation of the leg
  • Nerve damage

This surgery can restore blood flow to the legs.