Bypass Surgery for Atherosclerosis/PAD/PVD

Treating Cardiovascular Diseases in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois

Bypass surgery is a type of atherosclerosis treatment that is frequently used to treat blockages in leg arteries. During a bypass procedure, a surgeon creates a new pathway that enables blood to bypass (go around) the blockage.

Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque builds up in your arteries, causing them to harden and narrow. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in your blood.

Atherosclerosis can occur in any arteries. When it occurs in your legs, it can lead to peripheral artery disease (PAD), also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD). PAD disease symptoms occur when your legs do not receive sufficient blood and oxygen. Over time, this may lead to cramping or the loss of muscle strength in your legs. Eventually, it may lead to chronic leg pain and ulcers on your feet. 

After testing and perhaps other interventions, your doctor may determine that bypass surgery is your best option for peripheral artery disease treatment. The vessel used to create the bypass may be taken from another part of your body, such a leg vein. Or it may be a synthetic graft, made of a Dacron®.

Preparing for Bypass Surgery


Your doctor will request that you undergo certain tests to make sure that this surgery is safe for you. Your doctor may also request lab tests and various imaging tests to evaluate the extent of your blockage.


Your doctor will thoroughly review your medication list. In some cases, your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medications that could increase your risk of bleeding during your procedure.

Eating and Drinking

Your doctor is likely to ask that you not eat or drink anything for a specific time period prior to surgery. 

During Bypass Surgery

Your anesthesiologist will administer a general anesthesia. During your surgery, the anesthesiologist will regulate your anesthesia to make sure you stay comfortable. You will wake up when surgery is complete.

During surgery, your surgeon will connect the graft above and below the blockage to create a new pathway for blood to flow. Nurses and technicians will be in the room to monitor you, anticipate your needs and prevent complications.

The procedure itself takes about 3 – 5 hours. Preparations and recovery time add a few hours more.

Potential Bypass Surgery Risks

Infection or an occlusion (blockage) of the grafted vessel are potential risks of bypass surgery.

Aneurysm Surgery Recovery

As with any surgical procedure, you can expect some pain associated with your incision. Pain management, effective mobilization and excellent pulmonary function will aid in your recovery. Nurses, therapists and other support staff will provide support and guidance.

You can expect to recover in the hospital for about 5 – 8 days after your procedure.

Nationally Recognized for Treating Aneurysms

Aurora Health Care is known nationally for its highly skilled physicians, staff and state-of-the-art equipment. Our patients appreciate the convenience of seeing their entire team at one location.

Aurora doctors are located throughout eastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. Find a doctor or vascular specialist near you. To get a second opinion or if you need assistance finding a provider, please call 888-649-6892.