When someone has kidney failure, hemodialysis is a lifesaving treatment that filters their blood and removes harmful wastes. This allows them to survive a kidney condition and stay healthy.
A vascular access is a surgically-created vein that makes this treatment easier and more efficient. It allows a large amount of blood to flow continuously during hemodialysis, maximizing the volume of blood that can be filtered during a single session.
Hemodialysis puts a strain on the skin and veins of the body. Repeated insertion of needles without a vascular access can become almost impossible, causing scarring, infection, narrowing of veins, and other complications.
A vascular access supports the vein and allows repeated insertions of the needles used in hemodialysis. It is recommended when a doctor determines that certain factors make it a treatment priority.
These factors may include:
Your doctor will likely discuss a vascular access with you well before your first hemodialysis treatment. This is because a vascular access should already be in place for weeks or months before the first hemodialysis treatment occurs.
Before receiving a vascular access, you may have a Doppler ultrasound vessel mapping test. No anesthesia is needed for this test and it can be performed by a vascular specialist in an outpatient setting.
There are three types of vascular access that are commonly applied. The first, a venous catheter, is for short-term use only and is not the type of vascular access for hemodialysis that is our focus here.
The other two types are the arteriovenous (AV) fistula and the AV graft. Each is constructed by a vascular surgeon during an inpatient or outpatient vascular surgery.
An overnight stay in the hospital is sometimes required, however many patients go home at the end of the procedure. In an outpatient procedure, local anesthesia is used to numb the area and a vascular doctor places the access into the skin.
Using a vascular access for hemodialysis can provide a very positive health outcome and make it much easier to manage your kidney condition. A well-functioning vascular access helps you get the most out of hemodialysis and maximize the benefits from every session.
Your doctor can make a recommendation for your unique situation. Schedule a consultation with NOVA Vascular Specialists and ask about your options for a vascular access for hemodialysis.
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