Creating a way for your blood to reach a dialysis machine
Expert Heart & Vascular Care
Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our heart or vascular specialists.
If you have kidney failure, you’ll need dialysis therapy to clean and filter your blood. A surgically created vascular access allows blood to travel through the dialysis machine and return to the body.
The surgeons in our Vascular and Endovascular Program partner with kidney specialists (nephrologists) to provide you with the best dialysis access options available. If at some point your dialysis access point becomes narrowed or clogged, they also can help resume normal blood flow.
What types of vascular access are available?
Your doctor will work with you to find the type of vascular access that will be most effective for your care. Potential options include:
- Catheter access: Immediate or temporary access can be created using two plastic tubes connected to blood vessels in your neck or groin. Catheters have the highest rate of infection and are not often used for long-term dialysis.
- Dialysis fistula: This is formed by connecting an artery to a vein in the arm. The connection to the artery causes the vein to grow over time and have a higher blood flow for dialysis. This type of access has the lowest rate of infection and can provide good blood flow for many years.
- Dialysis graft: Tubing is used to connect an artery to a vein, often in the arm. The graft allows for dialysis to be performed sooner than with a fistula, but the rate of infection is higher because the access is not formed using natural tissue.
A fluoroscopy is an imaging technique that uses a continuous X-ray beam passed through the body to create real-time, moving images of your internal structures.