Before you begin dialysis, a dialysis access is placed in your arm during an outpatient surgery at a surgery center.
A fistula is the first choice for dialysis access because it generally lasts longer than other types of access and has less risk of infection or clotting. However, some people may not be able to have a fistula because their blood vessels are too small. When that’s the case, a graft is considered the next best choice for dialysis access.
Be sure your kidney doctor and care team know that you want a vascular dialysis access so you can have the best start for a healthy life on dialysis.
You’ll meet with your vascular access team. The surgeon and staff perform a procedure called vessel mapping. This painless procedure uses ultrasound to measure and map your arteries and veins to help the surgeon plan a successful vascular access.
You’re scheduled for the 1-2 hour outpatient access placement surgery. The access is usually placed in your forearm or in your upper arm.
It takes time for the access to heal and mature to be ready to be used for dialysis. As you begin using your access, you’ll take an active role in making sure it stays clean and healthy. Be sure to tell your care team if it becomes swollen or red, or if you notice any other changes.
Here are some questions and answers that people preparing for access placement often ask. Reach out to your care team for more information anytime. They’re ready to help you understand and feel confident as you take this next step.
If you can, talk to other people who have an access. Listening to their experience can help. Tell your care team about how you’re feeling and remember that your dialysis access is your lifeline to better health.
Most people live a long time on dialysis using a healthy dialysis access. You and your care team keep a close watch on the health of your access. Over the years, problems may occur once in a while, such as infection, clotting, or bleeding. When they do, your care team can help you quickly determine what needs to be done to keep your access working well for you.