Bypass surgery, usually done through abdominal or leg incisions depending upon the location of the blockage, creates a detour around the narrowed or blocked sections of your artery. A Y-shaped tube made of synthetic fabric, called a graft, is attached to your aorta above the blockage. The two branches of the graft are then attached to either your left and right iliac arteries or other major arteries in each leg (called the femoral arteries). Another option is to use your own vein as the bypass graft. Although more invasive, bypass surgery restores blood flow in about 85 percent of patients.
An endarterectomy is a way for your surgeon to remove the plaque from your artery. To perform an endarterectomy, your vascular surgeon makes an incision in your leg or abdomen, depending upon the location of the blockage in the artery, and removes the plaque contained in the inner lining of the diseased artery. This leaves a wide-open artery and restores blood flow through your leg artery.
The best choice of the treatment depends upon the pattern of blockage as well as how much blockage you have. Your vascular surgeon will help you determine which method of treatment is best for your particular situation.