Peripheral Artery Bypass Surgery

Surgery to bypass a blocked leg artery can ease your symptoms. The bypass is done with a special tube (graft) that re-directs blood around the blockage.

Attaching the graft

Peripheral bypass grafts carry blood from the femoral artery in your thigh to an artery farther down your leg. During the surgery, a graft is stitched into the artery above and below your blockage. This creates a new passage for blood flow. The blocked section of your artery is not removed. After the graft is in place, your doctor closes the cuts (incisions) in your skin with stitches or staples.

Types of grafts

  • A vein from your own leg or arm can be used as a blood vessel graft. Blood vessel grafts often come from your own leg. Vein grafts work better in long leg blockages that start from your groin and extend below your knee.

  • Man-made (synthetic) grafts are materials that your body easily accepts. These grafts work best on arteries at or above the knee.

Types of peripheral bypasses

The type of bypass depends on where your artery is blocked.

Front view of male figure showing femoral popliteal bypass.
Femoral popliteal bypass is used for the upper part of the leg.
Front view of male figure showing distal bypass graft.
Distal bypass is used for the lower part of the leg.


  • Bleeding or blood clots

  • Urgent need for surgery again if graft is blocked by clot or debris

  • Graft blockage

  • Heart attack or stroke

  • Breathing problems

  • Infection

  • Need for second bypass or surgery to remove dead tissue (amputation)

  • Nerve damage and numbness

  • Complications from anesthesia

Online Medical Reviewer: Anne Fetterman RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Deepak Sudheendra MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2022
© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.