Those being treated for kidney failure commonly undergo dialysis, also known as hemodialysis, in which a dialysis machine removes impurities from the blood. Dialysis access is a minor surgical procedure to make the dialysis treatment more efficient, safer and more comfortable for the patient.
Your surgeon will create dialysis access using one of two methods:
Fistula: By surgically joining an artery and a vein, most commonly in the forearm, the blood flow through the vein increases and the vein expands and strengthens.
Graft: A small plastic tube or, rarely, a piece of vein from your leg, is used to connect the vein and artery. Grafts are ready to use more quickly than a fistula, but are more prone to infection.
While rare, there are some risks associated with dialysis access procedures. The risks include:
- Numbness in the hand caused by the diversion of the blood flow, a condition sometimes called “a steal”