What is Vascular Access?

What is Vascular AccessKidneys are bean-shaped organs responsible for extracting waste and excess water from your blood to form urine. Each day your kidneys process around 200 quarts of blood to filter out around 2 quarts of waste and extra water. In the event of kidney failure, your body will fill with the waste and excess water and you may experience swelling in the hands or feet and a consuming sense of weakness. The bottom line is: your body needs clean blood to function properly. So, if your kidneys are unable to perform, dialysis is needed to prevent serious complications.

Vascular access is an important passageway to the bloodstream used for dialysis treatment. The access is created by a minor surgery.  Ensuring high quality access allows the full benefit of dialysis to help the patient feel as well as possible. There are two types of permanent vascular access both of which allow for easy entry to blood vessels during dialysis.

Arterial Venous Fistula (AVF): A fistula is made by joining an artery to a vein. Studies suggest a fistula is a longer lasting option and has a lower rate of infection.

Arterial Venous Graft (AVG): A graft is similar to a fistula in that it brings together a vein and artery; however, the difference is a graft uses an implanted tube to join the two. A graft may be used if the patient’s blood vessels are not suitable for creating a fistula.

Based upon diagnostic imaging and a thorough physical examination, the highly trained vascular physicians and staff at Premier Surgical Vascular Access & Imaging Center in Knoxville will recommend and provide the vascular access best suited for each patient.

During dialysis, two needles are inserted into the access, which are connected via soft tubes to the dialysis machine. Blood leaves the body through one tube and is cleaned in the dialyzer then returned to your body through the opposite tube. If a fistula or graft becomes blocked or malfunctions in any way, the patient is at risk for having a buildup of waste and excess water in the blood. Here are some general tips to care for your fistula or graft:

  • Wash the site daily with antibacterial soap and always prior to dialysis.
  • Check your access daily for redness, warmth or pimple like bumps.
  • Educate yourself on how to properly care for your access and identify any potential problems.

Your care team will check your access often to ensure efficiency. Patients of Premier Surgical Vascular Access  & Imaging Center come in for routine scanning ultrasounds to ensure proper flow through the access at a minimum of every 6 months. If problems are suspected, routine imaging is done more frequently.

Premier Surgical Vascular Access & Imaging physicians and staff have specialized skills and knowledge in caring for patients requiring vascular access. We are equipped and dedicated to providing patients with the best options for comprehensive, state-of-the-art care.  Call (865) 588-8229 to schedule an appointment today.

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