Outside your heart, blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to the rest of your body. These blood vessels make up the peripheral vascular system.
Peripheral Arteries That Are Commonly Blocked
Just like coronary arteries, peripheral arteries can become clogged and slow blood flow to vital areas, such as your brain or kidneys. This problem is called peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Some arteries are more prone to PVD than others (Figure 1), including:
Carotid arteries The carotid arteries are the main arteries in your head and neck that supply blood to your brain.
Renal arteries The renal arteries supply blood to your kidneys.
Iliac arteries The iliac arteries supply blood to your lower abdomen.
Femoral arteries At the pelvis, the iliac arteries become the femoral arteries, which supply blood to most of your legs.
Popliteal arteries At your knees, the femoral arteries become the popliteal arteries. The popliteal arteries supply blood to your lower legs.
Subclavian arteries The subclavian arteries supply blood to your arms.
Q. Which arteries are in your legs?
Blood Vessels Commonly Used for Bypass Grafts
If you have a blocked coronary artery, your doctor may take part of a healthy blood vessel from your leg, chest, or arm to fix the problem. Your doctor sews the healthy blood vessel from one healthy spot in your heart to another, avoiding the blocked area. This "detour" is called a bypass graft.
Doctors most often use the saphenous vein in the leg for bypass grafts (Figure 2). The saphenous vein stretches from your ankle to your thigh. Because it is so long, a doctor may use it for more than one graft. The saphenous vein is about the same size as a coronary artery, so it works well as a graft in your heart. It isn't dangerous to remove the saphenous vein because other veins in your leg will take over its job.
Other blood vessels can also be used for bypass grafts. The internal mammary artery in your chest and the radial artery in your arm are two options (Figure 3).
Q. Which blood vessel in your leg is commonly used as a bypass graft during heart surgery?