My father undergone surgery 10 years ago to get 3 bypasses close to the heart. Surgeons did a very long cut on his leg to get the material to make the bypasses they would later put on his chest.

What I understood at that time, is that they took three sections of the popliteal artery to obtain the material to make those bypasses, and that they fixed the cuts again to restore such artery. The reason why that artery was chosen is because it is very elastic and surgeons can extract a section and stick it together again.

My father is convinced they removed the whole popliteal artery from that leg and chopped it down to make the material they would use for the bypasses.

I am trying to find information about this procedure to find out who is wrong. The problem is that we both are completely illiterate in medical stuff, so we are lost in the mist. What I found is that the popliteal artery is important and blockage could be problematic.

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    – tyersome
    Nov 18, 2020 at 6:37

2 Answers 2


I'm not a physician, but I suspect the popliteal artery may not have been the vessel used. The popliteal artery has a very important role in supplying the leg with blood, and maintaining the blood supply from it to the lower (distal) leg is sometimes reason for harvesting other vessels.

You described a very long cut, which sounds like what you would see for harvesting the great saphenous vein. The great saphenous vein is the longest vein in the body, and dominates recent scientific publications in response to a query of ''coronary bypass harvesting''. (There are publications in that batch evaluating newer endoscopic techniques in which the long cut can be avoided) Wikipedia reviews the use of this vein reasonably well.

  • $\begingroup$ This is the correct answer. $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    Nov 10, 2020 at 22:01
  • $\begingroup$ I believe you are right, it must have been the saphenous vein. What I am not clear yet, if it is removed completely or just removed a section and the cut ends joint again. $\endgroup$
    – vtscop
    Nov 11, 2020 at 9:09
  • $\begingroup$ @val It isn't stitched back together if that's what you ask. The reason a superficial vein is used is because collateral circulation is sufficient. The saphenous vein is not necessary. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Nov 11, 2020 at 19:09

See, generally for coronary bypass surgery to relieve ischaemia of heart, a segment of 'Great Saphenous Vein' is removed and used for aorto-coronary grafting to bypass an arterial obstruction. Due to the opposite direction of venous valves (Veins in lower limb allow blood to move upward), it should be reversed in direction before ligating.

Now you are telling that popliteal artery was used for the bypass, but I doubt it.

Although there is an arterial anastomosis around knee joint that allows slightly compensated blood flow even after Popliteal artery obstruction. So, if the great saphenous vein was not in a condition to be used for a bypass, the surgeons might have used popliteal artery. enter image description here

I think the doctor will definitely clarify everything to you & he/she won't do any harm to your dad.


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