What is dialysis?
For those with kidney disease, hemodialysis is a life-saving treatment option. Dialysis helps keep your body functioning properly by removing substances, such as waste, salt and water, from your blood to prevent them from accumulating in the body.
To allow the most blood flow to and from the dialysis machine and your body, a vascular surgeon will create what is called an arteriovenous fistula. A fistula is created by connecting an artery and a vein – this makes the vessel larger and stronger so it can handle the frequent treatments.
Once your fistula is established, it is important to care for it properly:
- Keep the fistula area clean by washing the area with antibacterial soap daily and before each treatment.
- Report any pain, swelling or redness of the fistula area to your doctor immediately. A fever could be a sign of infection.
- Maintain proper blood flow through the fistula – be sure not to put extra pressure on the area. Avoid tight clothing, heavy jewelry, carrying heavy bags or sleeping on the area.
- Check for the “thrill” – check the blood flow through the fistula area daily by placing your fingers over the area. You should feel the motion of blood moving through it, called the “thrill”.
Even with proper care, complications can occur. It is important to always report changes to your physician immediately. If there are any indications your fistula is not working properly, you may be sent for a fistulagram. A fistulagram is an x-ray procedure performed by a vascular surgeon to help identify any issues with blood flow through your fistula. This procedure can detect clots, narrowing, enlargement or blockages. Once the problem is identified, a treatment plan can be developed.
Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgical Associates and the Jacksonville Vascular Center is proud to be a resource for dialysis patients by offering the full spectrum of access management procedures including:
- Dialysis Fistula Creation
- Dialysis Catheter Placement and Removal
For more information on the services we provide, click here.