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What is a Femoral-Tibial Bypass?

A femoral-tibial bypass is a life-saving surgical procedure that reroutes blood flow around blocked arteries in the leg, restoring circulation to the lower limb. This intricate operation involves grafting vessels to bypass obstructions, often preventing amputation. Intrigued by how this procedure can enhance quality of life? Discover the step-by-step journey of a femoral-tibial bypass through vivid imagery in our full article.
Caitlin Kenney
Caitlin Kenney

A femoral-tibial bypass is a surgical procedure that redirects blood around blocked arteries in the leg. There are several arteries in the leg that can become diseased and narrowed by fatty deposits called plaque. These blockages impede the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the lower leg and foot, causing pain, coldness, and difficulty walking. If left untreated, the patient can develop gangrene and require amputation of part of the leg or foot. A femoral-tibial bypass can be a very effective way of reducing the pain associated with blocked arteries and keeping the limb.

The arteries that may be involved in a femoral-tibial bypass include the femoral artery, the popliteal artery, and the tibial arteries. The femoral artery is a superficial artery that begins in the groin and runs down the upper leg. When it reaches behind the knee, it becomes the popliteal artery, which runs into the lower leg and splits into the posterior tibial artery, peroneal artery, and anterior tibial artery. These three smaller arteries feed blood to the lower leg, ankle, and foot. Blockages in any of these blood vessels may require a femoral-tibial bypass.

Untreated gangrene may necessitate amputation.
Untreated gangrene may necessitate amputation.

Prior to the procedure, the patient is anesthetized either with general anesthesia, which renders the patient unconscious for the entire surgery, or an epidural, which numbs the lower body. The surgeon will then sew a graft into the artery to redirect blood around the diseased vessel. The graft is usually made from veins in the body, typically harvested from the saphenous vein of the leg, but it can also be made of man-made material. Man-made grafts are only used when there are no other available blood vessels because they have a much lower success rate.

High blood pressure may increase one's risk for needing a femoral-tibial bypass.
High blood pressure may increase one's risk for needing a femoral-tibial bypass.

Though it is a major surgery, a femoral-tibial bypass does not require as lengthy a hospital stay or recovery time as bypass surgeries that require work on deeper blood vessels, such as the aortobifemoral bypass. The patient can expect to remain in the hospital for three to five days and stay in bed for one to two days following the procedure. The full recovery takes several weeks. Risks of femoral-tibial bypass include bleeding, infection, graft failure, swelling, heart attack, or stroke.

Any major surgery requires that doctors and nurses follow very specific sterilization protocols in order to reduce the risk of infection.
Any major surgery requires that doctors and nurses follow very specific sterilization protocols in order to reduce the risk of infection.

Often, when people have narrowing in one of the superficial arteries in the leg, there are blockages elsewhere in the leg and in the body. These patients often suffer from peripheral artery disease (PAD), which causes hardening in the blood vessels of the legs, and atherosclerosis, a more general condition marked by the accumulation of fats along the arterial walls. Smoking, history of vascular problems, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity can raise the risk of developing these diseases.

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    • Untreated gangrene may necessitate amputation.
      By: memorisz
      Untreated gangrene may necessitate amputation.
    • High blood pressure may increase one's risk for needing a femoral-tibial bypass.
      By: Minerva Studio
      High blood pressure may increase one's risk for needing a femoral-tibial bypass.
    • Any major surgery requires that doctors and nurses follow very specific sterilization protocols in order to reduce the risk of infection.
      By: Tyler Olson
      Any major surgery requires that doctors and nurses follow very specific sterilization protocols in order to reduce the risk of infection.
    • A femoral-tibial bypass will require a hospital stay.
      By: Gennadiy Poznyakov
      A femoral-tibial bypass will require a hospital stay.
    • A patient may be fully anesthetized for a femoral-tibial bypass.
      By: Tyler Olson
      A patient may be fully anesthetized for a femoral-tibial bypass.
    • Smoking can increase the risk of a person developing diseases that may require a femoral-tibial bypass.
      By: igor
      Smoking can increase the risk of a person developing diseases that may require a femoral-tibial bypass.
    • Obesity can raise the risk of developing diseases that may require a femoral-tibial bypass.
      By: yahyaikiz
      Obesity can raise the risk of developing diseases that may require a femoral-tibial bypass.