When patients experience kidney failure, they are recommended to undergo dialysis treatment. Dialysis is a life-saving treatment that does the work for the kidneys – it removes waste products and excess fluid from the blood.
Before a patient can undergo dialysis treatments, he or she must have a dialysis access. This is a way to reach the blood for dialysis treatments.
There are two different types of permanent vascular access. These are the arterial venous fistula and the arterial venous graft.
Arterial Venous Fistula (AVF)
This fistula is created by joining an artery to a vein. This type of vascular access provides good blood flow for dialysis and it lasts longer than other types of access.
Arterial Venous Graft (AVG)
A graft is like a fistula because it joins a vein and an artery together. The graft is usually placed at the arm, but it may also be placed in the leg if it’s necessary. The difference is that a graft uses an implanted tube to connect the artery to the vein.
Between the two, the fistula is usually the first choice for access and it generally lasts longer and poses fewer problems such as infection and clotting.
How does Vascular Access work?
Before beginning dialysis treatment, dialysis access surgery must be done to create a passageway allowing your blood to travel through your blood vessels to the dialysis machine.
The access lets your blood flow in and out through the machine.
At the beginning of each dialysis treatment, a nurse or technician will place two needles into your access. These needles are connected to the soft tubes which go to the dialysis machine. The blood goes to the machine through one of these tubes, then gets cleansed in the dialyzer. The ‘clean’ blood is then returned to the body through the other tube.
Caring for Your Access
To ensure optimal performance of your vascular access, it’s important to take care of it. You can do this by:
Washing it with antimicrobial soap everyday. Avoid scratching your skin or picking your scab.
Checking for any unusual signs around the access such as redness, warmth, and beginning growth of a pimple.
If there are problems with your dialysis access, there are procedures that can restore its healthy functioning. Examples of these procedures are ballooning/angioplasty (for improving the blood flow of the access), declotting, and ligation of branches (for improving the blood flow in a fistula).
The Vascular physicians of Premier Surgical Vascular and Vein Center in Knoxville, are experts in vascular access for dialysis patients. Our dedicated Access Center Nurse works with Dialysis Clinics and Nephrologists to address any concerns and coordinate care for dialysis access patients. She and Premier’s board-certified vascular surgeons are ready you keep your blood healthy and flowing.
For more information about Dialysis Access at Premier Surgical Vascular and Vein Center, visit this link.
To reach the Premier Access Coordinator directly, please call at (865) 306-5759.