Why You Should Have Dialysis Access Management

6 Reasons Why You Should Have Dialysis Access Management

Jan 1, 2022Dialysis Access Management

Did you know that each year in America approximately 786,000 people have kidney failure and require a transplant or dialysis? More than half of these patients end up receiving dialysis. 2 in 1,000 Americans are currently living with end-stage kidney disease and require regular dialysis.

Dialysis access sites are what make it possible for patients to receive the care they need, but what are they exactly and how do you manage them?

Read on for a closer look at dialysis access management and how it can help.

What Is Dialysis Access?

If you need dialysis, your specialist will have to create an access point through which the procedure can happen. The site is created so that blood can travel into the dialysis machine, where it is cleaned before returning to the person.

The access allows blood to travel through tubes to the machine, where it passes through a special filter called a dialyzer.

Types of Dialysis Access

There are a number of different access options that your doctor will consider. Let us look at each option.

Central Venous Catheter

central venous catheter, or CVC, is a long, plastic tube in the shape of a y that is threaded through your skin and enters a central vein in your neck, groin, or chest. This kind of access is not meant to be a permanent one. For people who need emergency access or who cannot receive an AV fistula or graft, a CVC is the only option.

It is an outpatient procedure that is quick to place and remove and can be used immediately for dialysis.

AV Fistula

An AV fistula is a surgical connection made between an artery and a vein. Usually, a fistula will be made in your non-dominant arm but another option is a leg. This connection will create an increased blood-flow rate through the vein, which enlarges it.

An AV fistula makes it possible for a higher rate of blood to flow from you to the dialysis machine and back. It is the preferred type of access because it can last for years, it does not tend to clot as easily, and it also has a lowered risk of infection.

AV Graft

An AV graft works in a similar way to an AV fistula. For people who have damaged or blocked veins, or who have veins that are too small for a fistula, a graft is the best option. A graft is also a surgical procedure but instead of connecting the artery to the vein, one end of a small hollow tube will connect to the vein and the other end to the artery.

An AV graft is usually ready to use in a few days and the placement is rapid. It is also an outpatient procedure.

Peritoneal Dialysis Catheter (PD catheter)

If the type of dialysis you receive is peritoneal dialysis, you will need a PD catheter to work as the access site. It uses the lining of your stomach and a dialysate solution to clean your blood and it is the best option for people who want to perform the dialysis at home.

This access option does not use needles and does not require a temporary CVC.


If your access is not performing as it needs to, you will have to turn to a vascular specialist for dialysis access site management. There are a number of procedures that the specialist will consider to restore blood flow to your access. These include a fistulogram, a stent placement, thrombolysis, and a thrombectomy.

But what benefits can dialysis access management offer?

1. Prolong the Life of the Fistula or Graft

Dialysis access management will ensure that the fistula or graft remains fully functional for as long as possible. Keep in mind that 80 percent of fistulas last 4 or more years with property maintenance. Many fistulas can last up to 10 years.

Grafts tend to last 2 to 3 years.

2. Avoid Surgical Interventions

Dialysis access management ensures that the patient does not have to go through more access site procedures, which are invasive. Since most access management procedures are minimally invasive, they are the alternative. Ensuring the access is working correctly will prevent the need for more surgeries.

3. Faster Dialysis

If your fistula or graft is working at its best, you can expect the blood flow rate to be much higher. This translates into the actual dialysis procedure taking less time. For most people, this is essential.

4. Prevent Complications and Pain

When the access site is not working as it needs to, it can lead to serious complications that can require further surgeries. Pain is also a concern for patients who are experiencing issues with dialysis access.

Sometimes, fistulas or grafts can send too much blood from the artery to the vein and this can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in the hand. Access management can fix this using a fistulagram.

5. Improve Quality of Life

Ensuring your dialysis access site is in working condition can mean a better quality of life. Unless a transplant is possible, dialysis is the only way to manage kidney failure, and not having to go through lots of interventions can improve quality of life.

6. Continue Dialysis Treatment Uninterrupted

Access management can ensure that your treatment goes uninterrupted. If you have chronic kidney failure, you cannot afford delays or complications.

Get the Quality Treatments You Need

Dialysis access management is a vital part of living with kidney disease. At Coastal Vascular Center, we can offer the quality treatments you need.

Call us or visit us today for more information.

Health-related information on CoastalVascular.net is for educational purposes only and, therefore not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.