Hemodialysis Vascular Access

How can we define Hemodialysis Vascular Access?

Hemodialysis Vascular Access is an access or entry to the vascular system is needed to perform the blood-cleansing role of the kidneys through hemodialysis.

Types of Hemodialysis Vascular Access:

There are three types of vascular access: AV fistula, grafts, and catheters.

Hemodialysis Vascular Access: Arteriovenous Fistula

An AV fistula has proven to be the best kind of vascular access for people whose veins are large enough, not only because it lasts longer, but also because it is less likely than other types of access to form clots or become infected. If the veins are not large enough or there is no time to wait for a fistula to develop, a graft or a catheter must be used.

Graft as a Hemodialysis Vascular Access

Grafts are often the access of choice when a hemodialysis patient has small veins that will not likely develop properly into a fistula. This type of access uses a synthetic tube implanted under the skin of the arm that can be used repeatedly for needle placement. Unlike a fistula, which requires time to develop, a graft can be used as soon as two to three weeks after placement. Grafts are known to have more problems than fistulas, such as clots and infection, and will likely need replacement sooner.

Temporary Hemodialysis Vascular Access

A catheter is used to provide temporary vascular access. When kidney disease has progressed quickly, there may not be time to prepare a permanent vascular access site before dialysis treatments are started. The catheter is a tube that is inserted into a vein in the neck, chest, or in the leg near the groin. Two chambers in the tube allow blood to flow in and out. Once the catheter is in place, needle insertion is not necessary. Catheters are effective for dialysis for several weeks or months while surgery is performed and an AV fistula develops. They are not selected for permanent access because they can clog, become infected, or cause the veins to narrow. Long-term catheter access must be used in patients for whom AV fistula or graft surgery has not been successful. If more than three weeks’ use is expected, catheters can be made to tunnel under the skin, which increases comfort and reduces complications.