What You Need to Know About Dialysis Access Maintenance

Dialysis access is a procedure used to get rid of waste from the blood of patients with kidney failure. During the process, the patient’s blood is filtered through the dialysis filtering system. Vascular access is essential for patients with kidney problems who rely on hemodialysis. Before treatment, vascular or dialysis access is created to facilitate the flow of fluid during hemodialysis. Kristen Forsythe FNP  creates special access for patients with chronic kidney disease to determine which one among the ones listed below is right for you.

Types of dialysis access

The following are the different dialysis access routes your specialist may recommend depending on other factors such as the urgency of your condition.

  • Intravenous catheters: In this method, thin tubes are placed in a blood vessel.
  • Arteriovenous(AV) fistulas are the most common access method where connections are created between a vein and an artery. Joining the artery and vein increases pressure inside the vein and strengthens its walls in preparation for hemodialysis. If the fistulas and grafts become narrowed or blocked due to blood clots, you may have to undergo a percutaneous treatment to keep them clear. This process of clearing the blockage is known as dialysis access maintenance.
  • Synthetic grafts: These are more like artificial veins. This method is mainly used when a patient is unfit for the arteriovenous fistulas method.

Why should you undergo dialysis access maintenance?

If your vascular access is functioning well, it increases the chances of the dialysis treatment being successful. If the fistulas and grafts are blocked, blood is unable to flow to the dialysis filtering system. The development of these maintenance techniques has helped to preserve the artificial vessels in the kidney. As a result, the specially designed stents in the vessel support the walls and keep them open through the dialysis access maintenance procedures.

What are the risks?

Some access methods may cause more complications and risks compared to others. Most patients with blocked grafts and fistulas experience significant difficulties, including pain and sometimes mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Most of the time, patients with complications require hospitalization. Problems such as bleeding or puncturing of the artery can occur due to improper positioning of the central venous catheter.

Whether you have a fistula, graft, or catheter access, you must always ensure that it is well taken care of. To keep the fistula or graft lasting longer, you should:

  • Ensure the healthcare worker does not use the blood pressure cuff on your access arm.
  • Regularly feel for a pulse to ensure the blood is flowing freely.
  •  Do not lift heavy items using your access arm.
  •  Do not rest your head on the access arm, as too much pressure will stop the blood flow.

Your access may block, clot, or get an infection even when you are extra careful. Ensure you inform your doctors immediately in case you suspect an infection. If the access clots, you may need to visit a hospital immediately for its removal, which usually doesn’t require you to stay overnight as it can be removed on an outpatient basis.

Schedule an appointment with your doctor at Vascular Specialists to get your dialysis access monitored and maintained to prevent blockage or clotting of the vessels.