Celiac artery bypass is a surgery to increase blood flow to the organs supplied by your celiac artery. It involves using a graft to create an alternative passage for your blood.

Your celiac artery, or celiac trunk, is a blood vessel that branches off the main blood vessel that carries blood away from your heart, called the aorta. It supplies blood to major organs like your liver and stomach.

Read on to learn more about celiac artery bypass, including reasons you may need this surgery and how it’s performed.

The purpose of bypass surgery is to allow blood to flow around a blockage or an aneurysm in your celiac artery. Your celiac artery might become blocked due to:

An aneurysm is a bulging and weakened section of a blood vessel that can rupture. Celiac artery aneurysms are extremely rare but come with a mortality rate of around 40%, even with surgical repair.

In a 2018 study from Turkey, researchers reported respiratory failure and infection as the most common complications of celiac artery bypass used to treat 22 people.

Other potential complications include:

In a 2018 study from Turkey, 17 of the 22 study participants received a celiac artery bypass, while 21 received a superior mesenteric artery bypass. This means most people received both.

One of the 22 people died in the hospital. At an average follow-up period of 44.7 months (range from 1–101 months), 68% of people had graft patency, meaning they had blood flow through their graft.

Here’s what to expect before, during, and after a celiac artery bypass.

Before the procedure

A celiac bypass may be done with an open or endovascular procedure. An open procedure means the surgery is performed through a large incision. Endovascular surgeries are performed by inserting a thin tube with special tools into your bloodstream.

Open procedures are generally performed under general anesthesia to put you asleep. If you receive general anesthesia, you won’t be able to eat for about 6 hours before your surgery.

During the procedure

Here’s what to expect if your surgeon uses an open technique:

  1. Your surgeon makes a large incision through your abdomen.
  2. They access your celiac artery by moving your organs aside. They then attach a graft onto either end of the blocked or weakened part of your artery. The graft may be made from one of your other blood vessels or synthetic materials, like Dacron.
  3. Your surgeon makes sure that blood is flowing properly through the graft with Doppler flowmetry or other imaging tests before closing your wounds with stitches.

After the procedure

You’ll go to a recovery area for monitoring after your procedure. You’ll likely wake up attached to an intravenous (IV) line and with a catheter connected to your bladder. Stitches are usually removed more than a week after bypass procedures.

In the 2018 study mentioned above, researchers found that the average hospital stay was 10.5 days.

If your surgery is planned, your surgeon may tell you to stop taking certain medications, like blood thinners. It’s important to tell your healthcare team about any supplements or herbs you’re taking.

It’s generally recommended to stop smoking in advance to improve your recovery. This can be difficult, so working with your doctor to create a cessation plan is recommended.

You may feel tired for weeks after your procedure. Give yourself plenty of rest during the first few weeks to aid your body’s recovery.

You won’t be able to drive until you can perform an emergency stop without pain. Generally speaking, you may be able to return to work after about 1–3 months after a bypass procedure, depending on what type of work you do.

To give a rough idea of the cost, the nonprofit FAIR Health estimates that 80% of procedures to bypass a blocked artery aorta to an abdominal or kidney artery in New York City is less than $25,472 without insurance. The cost of anesthesia might be another $11,853.

The nonprofit estimates that 80% of procedures are cheaper than $10,120 in Salt Lake City, with anesthesia potentially costing another $7,429.

Most insurance programs, including Medicare, cover at least the majority of the cost if it’s medically necessary.

If you have a blockage in one of the arteries supplying your internal organs, you may also receive medication to dissolve a blood clot or other surgeries, such as:

  • angioplasty with stenting, where a surgeon inserts a balloon into your blood vessel to open it and keeps it open by inserting a mesh
  • resection to remove part of your intestines if it can’t be saved
  • surgical decompression of the median arcuate ligament to treat median arcuate ligament syndrome

Here are some frequently asked questions people have about celiac artery surgery.

What organ does the celiac artery supply?

The celiac artery and its branches supply many of your internal organs, such as your:

  • stomach
  • lower esophagus
  • liver
  • pancreas
  • gallbladder
  • spleen
  • part of the small intestine

What happens when the celiac artery is blocked?

If your celiac artery is compressed, you may have abdominal pain, especially after eating. You might also have nausea and vomiting.

Can the celiac artery be stented?

In a small 2020 study from China, researchers found celiac artery stenting can be safe for people with celiac artery aneurysms.

What’s the recovery time for celiac artery surgery?

In a 2018 study from Turkey, 22 people who received a celiac or superior mesenteric artery bypass remained in the hospital for 5–20 days. Artery bypass surgeries in general can take weeks to months of recovery.

A celiac bypass is a procedure to create a new pathway for blood to flow around a blockage or weakness in your celiac artery. This artery supplies many of your internal organs, such as your liver, pancreas, and stomach.

A celiac bypass is a major surgery. Although the surgery can cause serious complications, it can be lifesaving for people who need it.