Dialysis Access Management
Table of Contents
For patients on dialysis, proper access management in a timely manner is critical. We offer a suite of access management services in an attempt to provide prompt, effective assistance to these patients so that they may continue their treatments.
Dialysis Catheter Placement
In the world of dialysis based on KDOQI guidelines, a fistula is the preferred dialysis access when clinically feasible. However, in certain scenarios, a dialysis catheter may be a necessary bridge to a functional fistula–or it may be the only option in other patients. Both temporary and permanent hemodialysis catheters can be placed by your vascular specialist, but the temporary variety are usually resolved for acute care and hospitalizations because of higher infection rates.
Dialysis Catheter Removal
When dialysis catheters are no longer in use or no longer needed, it is generally recommended by either your kidney doctor or your vascular specialist to have them removed. This is because over time, they can become infected, can cause clot to form or can even completely block the veins from the neck or the arms.
Over time, some patients will develop more chronic complications of dialysis access. A catheter left in the bloodstream for an extended period of time can cause blockages in the veins that make adequate dialysis impossible. Sometimes your vascular specialist will have to do special procedures to unclog these veins and occasionally will require stents to keep them open for a longer period of time.
A fistulagram is a procedure involving the placement of a tiny catheter into your dialysis access and injecting this with contrast or dye. This allows your vascular specialist to see the inner lining of the fistula or graft when using x-rays. This permits the doctor to fix blockages or clotted fistulas or grafts at the same time as diagnosing the problem. Sometimes a fistulagram will involve angioplasty (balloon dilation) or stenting (a permanent metal device implanted in an artery or vein) to keep the vessel open.
Occasionally a fistula or graft becomes blocked or filled with clot. This makes dialysis impossible. This can be managed by performing a fistulagram where the clot is removed and any other problem is fixed. When this occurs, it must be treated promptly to prolong the life of the access. Generally if the fistula is left more than 2-3 days clotted, it may not be salvageable. A dialysis graft can generally be salvaged over a longer period of time.