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If you have kidney disease and require dialysis, the dialysis provider will need access to your blood vessels. During dialysis, blood leaves the body through a blood vessel, moves through a dialysis machine (artificial kidney) to filter out fluid and toxins, then goes back into the body.
To create access to a blood vessel, you will need a dialysis fistula or graft procedure.
To create a dialysis fistula, a vascular surgeon connects an artery to a vein (generally in the arm). The fistula causes the vein to grow larger and stronger so that it can be easily accessed during dialysis.
Learn more about this procedure at the Norton Audubon Hospital Vascular Access Center.
To create a dialysis graft, a vascular surgeon uses a synthetic (manmade) tube to connect an artery to a vein. The graft is placed under the skin and becomes an artificial vein that is used during dialysis.
If a dialysis fistula or graft stops working, you may need a procedure called a thrombectomy, or access revision. When a fistula or graft stops working, it’s usually due to a blood clot. A thrombectomy is a procedure to remove the clot.
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