Hemodialysis is a way to remove wastes from the blood when your
kidneys can no longer do the job. It is a lifesaving treatment when you have
kidney failure. Hemodialysis is often called dialysis.
can start dialysis, your doctor will need to create a place where the blood can
flow in and out of your body during your dialysis sessions. This site is called
the vascular access. Your doctor will prepare the vascular access weeks to
months before dialysis starts. It is important to get your access as soon as
your doctor says to. This allows your access to heal before you use it.
For dialysis to work best, the access needs to have a good, steady blood
flow. It also must be sturdy since it will be used often, usually 3 times every week.
Learning about vascular access and dialysis can help you take an active
role in your treatment. Dialysis does not cure kidney disease, but it can help
you live longer and feel better. You will need to follow your diet and
treatment schedule carefully.
access is where the needles are put that draw the blood from your body and send
it through tubes to the dialysis machine. This access is also used to return
the clean blood that is sent back into your body. There are two basic types of
permanent vascular access:
You will be asleep or get medicine to feel relaxed during
the surgery. You will not feel pain. Your doctor will make a cut (incision) on
the arm you use the least. If you are right-handed, the fistula
or graft will probably be put in your left arm. If you are left-handed, it will
probably be put in your right arm. Your doctor will close the incision with
stitches. The incision will leave a scar that fades with time.
you need to start hemodialysis right away, your doctor may place a tube in a
vein in your neck, chest, or leg. This is called a central venous catheter. The
catheter can be used while your permanent access heals. Catheters have more
problems than an AV fistula or AV graft, so they are not the best choice for
If you get an AV fistula, you will probably go
home the same day as the surgery. If you get an AV graft, you may spend 1 night
at the hospital. You will probably need to take 1 or 2 days off from
Hemodialysis uses a man-made
membrane called a dialyzer to clean your blood. You are connected to the
dialyzer by tubes attached to your blood vessels through your vascular
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and
call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your
test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of:
November 20, 2015
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
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