Peripheral artery disease can be a serious condition because it reduces blood flow to your leg when it involves the femoral artery. This can cause leg pain or wounds that won't heal. If the vascular condition isn't treated properly, it can even lead to amputation due to a lack of blood flow. Fortunately, there are treatments for peripheral artery disease, including medication, that can help. When these treatments don't work, then vascular surgery could be needed. Here's what you might expect if you need surgery for peripheral artery disease.
The Femoral Popliteal Bypass Procedure
The femoral popliteal or fem-pop bypass involves using part of another vein or an artificial graft to bypass the area of the femoral artery that is obstructed. This involves making an incision in your thigh in the area of the blockage and then suturing the bypass in place. This procedure might be done under local or general anesthesia, but a hospital stay is usually required to monitor your condition after the surgery. When the bypass is complete, blood flow resumes at a normal rate to your lower leg, so problems with pain and decreased circulation are eliminated.
The Recovery Period After Surgery
The initial hours and days after the surgery are important for monitoring blood flow to ensure your leg and foot have adequate circulation. A nurse will check your lower legs regularly for strong pulses, warm skin, and pink color. Since the femoral artery is a main artery in your body, care is taken to control bleeding during the initial days as the bypass heals. You may be on a variety of medications to control infections, keep your blood pressure within normal limits, and to reduce the risk of bleeding. You may need to limit your activities initially so you don't stress the surgical site, but you'll be encouraged to get out of bed and walk increasing distances as soon as your doctor permits it.
While fem-pop surgery is a treatment for a clogged femoral artery, it doesn't do anything to treat your underlying vascular disease. Your doctor may want you to make lifestyle changes too, such as stop smoking, lose weight, eat a healthy diet, and manage your cardiovascular disease with medications if necessary so you can prevent further surgeries. After your surgery, you should notice less pain when you walk and improved circulation in your leg. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle once you've had fem-pop surgery, you may slow down the progression of your vascular disease so you can enjoy a longer and healthier life.
To learn more, talk to a vascular surgeon today.