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A fistula is made when an artery and a nearby vein are sewn together. This makes a vein bigger and stronger.
A fistula is needed for hemodialysis. It’s used to send your blood to the hemodialysis machine and back to your body after your blood is cleaned.
Two needles are put into the fistula in your arm each time you have a hemodialysis treatment.
The fistula is under your skin so you may not be able to see it at first. You should feel a vibration when you put your fingers over the fistula. This is called a “thrill” or “buzz”. Over time, the vein gets bigger and you’ll be able to see it.
Exercise gets blood flowing to your arm. This may make:
It’s important to exercise your arm both before and after your surgery.
Start the exercises as soon as you find out you need a fistula. This may make the vein bigger which helps your fistula to develop.
Start doing the exercises 2 weeks after surgery when the areas on the skin that were cut (incision sites) have healed.
Keep doing these exercises until your nurse tells you to stop. You should stop doing the exercises and call your access nurse or dialysis unit if:
Lower arm fistula: Exercise 1
Lower arm fistula: Exercise 2
Put your lower arm (with the fistula) and wrist on a flat surface with the palm of your hand up. Your wrist should be at the edge of the surface.
Upper arm Fistula: Exercise 1
To see this information online and learn more, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca/health/pages/conditions.aspx?Hwid=custom.ab_hemodialysis_avfistulaexercises_inst.
For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.
Current as of: November 13, 2020
Author: Kidney Care Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health Services
Care instructions may be adapted by your healthcare provider. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, talk with your doctor or appropriate healthcare provider.