Before hemodialysis can be done, a way the blood can be safely removed and returned form your body must be found. However, the veins of your body are not larger or strong enough to pass the blood through the dialyzer. So you will need to create an access by surgery before hemodialysis treatment. There are 3 types of hemodialysis access you can choose: a dialysis fistula, a graft or a catheter. A dialysis fistula is also called arteriovenous fistula (AV fistula). Through surgery, a dialysis fistula is formed by connecting an artery and a vein directly. A fistula is proven the best hemodialysis access. So dialysis fistula is the gold standard for hemodialysis access.
A graft is also called arteriovenous graft. A graft is created by connecting an artery and a vein with an artificial soft plastic tube. The tube is a soft plastic one, creating a high-flow blood vessel.
A catheter is usually inserted into a vein in the chest or neck to do temporary and alternative hemodialysis until dialysis fistula is mature enough to use. It’s highly recommend that the catheter is only used on a temporary basis.
Hemodialysis access is important, which is also referred as your life line. Your access can be placed in the arm or in your leg. Taking good care of it is very important. This can ensure your hemodialysis treatments go on as scheduled. Before any dialysis treatment, your access will be checked whether there are blood flow problems, infections problems. Healthy access is when there is a buzzing or rushing feeling and a pulse can be felt in the access. If these signs are not in place, call your nephrologist as soon as possible.The most common problems of access are clotting and infection. Redness, warmth or swelling to the touch is the sign of infection. Keeping your access dry and clean between treatments is important. During a hemodialysis treatment, needles are needed to place in your access site. Before doing this, wash the access. The person who inserts the needle into your access must wash their hands first and put on specialized gloves. To protect your hemodialysis access, don’t wear jewelry or tight clothes on the access. And don’t sleep on that arm or leg. You must be carful not to bump or cut the access. Meanwhile, taking your blood pressure, drawing blood pr putting an IV into the arm or leg which has your access is also forbidden. Watch the blood flow. It is easy to treat, if you find the access problem earlier. If you feel unsure about the condition of your hemodialysis access, call your nephrologist or dialysis center.