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Before Vascular Surgery

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Know the Risks

Like any surgery, vascular surgery carries risks. If the doctor has recommended surgery, that is because he believes the benefits in your case outweigh the risks. The risks of vascular surgery include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding or blood clots
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy may temporarily have trouble speaking or swallowing.
  • Patients undergoing peripheral artery bypass surgery may have breathing problems.
  • If a peripheral artery bypass fails, a second bypass may be needed, or amputation may become necessary.
  • AAA surgery patients risk kidney failure, pneumonia, injury to the colon's blood supply, erectile dysfunction, spinal cord injury, and a leak around or behind a graft.

Preparing for Surgery

  • If you smoke, try to quit before surgery.
  • Tell your doctor about any medications you're taking, especially aspirin or blood thinners, and ask if you should stop taking them.
  • Before AAA surgery or peripheral artery bypass surgery, ask your doctor about donating your own blood ahead of time in case you need a transfusion.
  • You may have a heart and lung evaluation to rule out health problems that could complicate surgery.
  • Don't eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery.

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