Bypass Surgery for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) 

Bypass Surgery for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) 

Bypass surgery is one of the few options available for treating Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) In this case, the operation is performed in order to restore proper blood flow in your arms and legs — often as a result of a condition called atherosclerosis (plaque build-up that severely impedes or disrupts blood flow.) 

Bypass surgery for PAD is performed by a vascular surgeon. They are tasked with attaching a new blood vessel (taken from another part of the body, or man-made) to the blocked artery so as to create a new passageway for the blood to pass through. 

This is a highly complex operation, and it will require some time spent in the hospital for your recovery (as well as home care once you’ve stepped out of it.) However, it’s one of the best long-term solutions for PAD out there, especially for patients suffering from the condition symptomatically. 

How to Determine the Need for a Bypass Surgery? 

There are certain risk factors that can lead you to be susceptible to PAD. Your age, for one, is considered — patients over the age of 65 are more likely to develop the condition. The same can be said for those who have a history of smoking or those that diabetic. 

If your physician finds it necessary to test you for the condition, you can expect to be taken through the following tests for a complete diagnosis (according to the Mayo Clinic) 

  • Physical Exam: This is the starting point. Should you be displaying some of the more common symptoms of PAD (like pain in your legs after exercise, sores that don’t heal, etc.) you may be recommended for the next test.  
  • Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI): An ABI exam is very common when it comes to diagnosing PAD. The machines and software used are unique to each facility, but the purpose is always the same — they are done in order to measure blood pressure and blood flow in both your arms and legs. 
  • Ultrasound or Angiography: If your ABI scores show positive signs of PAD, an ultrasound or Angiography will be next. This is done in order to locate the narrowed and/or blocked arteries.  

The tests won’t necessarily end there, you may also have to undergo some blood tests to determine other conditions (like diabetes) that are closely associated with PAD but depending on the severity of what your doctor discovers, the most apt treatment plan for you may just be a bypass surgery. 

Bypass Surgery for PAD 

We’ve already briefly described how bypass surgery for PAD is performed, but that’s not all that there is. Bypass surgery is not always going to be necessary. It’s performed in order to help those whose symptoms have evolved into life-disturbing levels and, or if the patient’s unique condition does not agree with some of the other treatment plans available. 

Bypass surgery for PAD is incredibly invasive. It will probably involve multiple deep incisions — at least one to extract the graft (the healthy blood vessel) and another to attach the graft to the afflicted area. For that reason alone, most people would prefer angioplasty instead, which is a far less invasive treatment plan.  

Considerations will be required in order to determine the disadvantages of either or — something you can learn more about in this article — ‘Angioplasty vs. Bypass Surgery.’ 

Conclusion: Bypass Surgery for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) 

Bypass Surgery is one of the most effective treatment solutions available for Peripheral Arterial Disease.  

Medicine, exercise, and even Angioplasty are great stopgaps to deal with narrowed arteries, and they should be able to help keep the condition for progressing too quickly out of control. However, they won’t be able to help patients who are suffering from multiple narrowed arteries, or worse.  

We must also remember that PAD is a life-long condition, there’s no cure that will treat it completely. Instead, the closest we can get to a long-term solution is bypass surgery. With it, a patient suffering from PAD can celebrate not having to worry about cardiovascular risks (like a heart attack) or a stroke, both of which have always been associated with PAD.  

That’s about as much we can ask for, which makes early diagnosis all the more important. 


  1. “Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 17 July 2018,