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A hemodialysis access is a site on your body where dialysis needles can be placed. It's most often made by joining a vein and an artery, usually in an arm. Your blood flows through the needles and into tubes that go to and from a dialysis machine to remove wastes from your blood.
Several things can cause a vascular access to fail. They include:
An access can sometimes fail before it has been used the first time.
Access failure is often found by the dialysis nurse during a treatment session. The nurse may notice that dialysis or the access is not working as well as it should.
If your doctor suspects access failure, he or she will do a physical examination. This may include checking your access for a vibration, called a thrill. Your doctor may also check it for a swishing sound, called a bruit (say "BROO-ee"). These are signs that your access is working.
The doctor may also looks for signs of infection, such as swelling, warmth, or redness in the area. He or she may also look at the colour and temperature of your hands and arms.
You may get tests. These can include blood tests. You may also get imaging tests of your blood vessels, such as Doppler ultrasound or angiogram.
When a vascular access fails, your doctor needs to quickly repair or replace it. It has to work well so you can keep up with your dialysis sessions.
It's important to take care of your vascular access so that it works well. Any access has some risk of failure. So follow these tips to protect your access.
Adaptation Date: 5/5/2021
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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