What is an Arterial Graft?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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An arterial graft is a procedure used to repair a damaged artery before it leads to a life threatening condition, such as a heart attack. Occasionally, the procedure can be performed right after a serious event, if it is caught in time. The procedure of grafting tissue onto an artery requires a graft made out of a piece of artery from the patient, from a cadaver, or from a synthetic source.

A common problem with the health of arteries is that they become blocked or develop aneurysms. The main arteries affected are those in the heart, though serious conditions can develop in arteries in the legs, intestines, abdominal area, and around the kidneys. An arterial graft may be placed on any of the major arteries in these and other regions. This procedure can repair damage and can prevent serious complications.

Atherosclerosis and aneurysm are the two most common conditions that an arterial graft is used to correct. In atherosclerosis, the large arteries in the body narrow due to the buildup of plaque inside of them. This plaque can lead to decreased blood flow, which can cause a stroke or heart attack as well as reduced function in various parts of the body. Aneurysms form when a partially blocked blood vessel expands in a certain area. Eventually, there is a risk that an aneurysm will rupture, which can lead to a variety of health problems or even the death of the patient.


Surgeons may choose to enter the body from a number of different areas, depending on the area that needs the arterial graft. Most arterial grafts are performed on the arteries of the heart and are called coronary arterial bypass grafts. The most common source for an arterial graft is another artery in the patient’s own body, though it is also possible to use an artery from a person who is recently deceased or to use a section of artery that has been artificially created. A graft taken from one of the patient’s own blood vessels has the greatest chance of being incorporated successfully into the damaged section of artery.

In order to perform arterial graft surgery, a section of artery is connected to the area on the blood vessel that is damaged. This graft is often a separate vessel that can bypass the affected area by allowing blood to flow through an alternate route. A graft that is accepted can improve blood flow significantly and prevent serious injury or death.


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