If you need to start on hemodialysis, then your nephrologist will refer you to a local vascular surgeon to have an arterio-ventral fistula, often called simply an A-V fistula. The A-V fistula will provide an area on your arm where the dialysis clinic's nurses will be able to use to connect you to a dialysis machine and it is very important that you take care not to damage your A-V fistula once it is in place.
Here is some information about A-V fistulas to help you better understand how they are created and how you should care for your new fistula to extend its life as long as possible:
Creating an Arterio-Ventral Fistula
A-V fistulas are created to give your arm an area where a vein and an artery are connected together. This new area is used to place the dialysis catheter needles into. One needle will point towards the vein while the other needle will point towards the artery.
The fistula helps the blood filtration rate for your dialysis treatment and eliminates the need for a central line. However, just like central lines, A-V fistulas are prone to having certain types of problems. Some of these issues you can help to eliminate by taking simple steps.
Avoid Blood Pressure Checks on Your A-V Fistula Arm
Since the A-V fistula is a delicate joining of a vein and artery, it is not safe for you to have medical professionals taking your blood pressure on the same arm as your fistula. Whenever you visit the doctor's office or hospital, remind all of the medical professionals that you come into contact with that you are on hemodialysis and have an A-V fistula in your arm.
Never Allow Blood to be Drawn From Your A-V Fistula
Finally, while the A-V fistula in your arm provides a very easy access point for laboratory blood draws, you should never let anyone draw blood or place any type of needles into your fistula area, other than the catheter needles required for dialysis treatment. Sticking needles into the fistula can cause clotting and damage from sticking the needles through the connected tissue. If your dialysis fistula becomes damaged, then you will have to have a second vascular surgery procedure to go back in and either fix areas of damage or create a new fistula on your other arm. This is a problem because longevity on dialysis treatment often relies on having access areas that are working well.
To learn more, contact a company like Cedar Surgical Associates PC.