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Improve Kidney Health With Hemodialysis: Understand the Vital Role of Dialysis Access

Understanding the various types of dialysis access is essential for individuals undergoing dialysis treatment or their caregivers. Arteriovenous fistulas and grafts are the preferred options whenever possible due to their long-term benefits and lower risk of complications. 


Hemodialysis is a life-sustaining treatment for individuals with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or kidney failure. It involves the removal of waste products and excess fluid from the blood using a dialysis machine. In the process of hemodialysis, dialysis access plays a crucial role. 

In this blog post, we will explore the significance of dialysis access in hemodialysis treatment and how it contributes to its effectiveness.


What Is Hemodialysis? 

Hemodialysis is a medical procedure used to artificially remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys are unable to perform these functions adequately. 

During hemodialysis, blood is withdrawn from the patient, passed through a dialysis machine for filtration, and then returned to the body.


What Causes Hemodialysis? 

Hemodialysis is primarily caused by end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or kidney failure. This can result from various underlying conditions, including chronic kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, polycystic kidney disease, and certain inherited disorders. 

When the kidneys are severely damaged and cannot function properly, hemodialysis becomes necessary to sustain life.


What Symptoms Do You Have From Hemodialysis? 

While undergoing hemodialysis, individuals may experience certain symptoms, which can vary from person to person. Common symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, itching, changes in blood pressure, and a general feeling of weakness. 

These symptoms can be alleviated with proper dialysis treatment and management.


What Is the Main Concern When You Have Hemodialysis? 

When undergoing hemodialysis, the main concern is the establishment and maintenance of reliable dialysis access. Dialysis access refers to the site where the blood is withdrawn and returned during hemodialysis. 

Complications with dialysis access, such as infection, clotting, or narrowing of blood vessels, can affect the effectiveness of treatment and pose risks to the patient’s health. Ensuring proper care and monitoring of the dialysis access site is essential to minimize complications and ensure uninterrupted hemodialysis treatment.


What Is Dialysis Access? 

Dialysis access refers to the method used to access the bloodstream for hemodialysis treatment. Hemodialysis is a medical procedure that removes waste products and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys are no longer able to perform these functions adequately.

The access point allows for the safe and efficient circulation of blood from the body to the dialysis machine and back.


What Does Dialysis Access Target? 

The primary goal of dialysis access is to create a reliable and safe entry point into the bloodstream, enabling the circulation of blood to the dialysis machine and back to the patient’s body.

The access site allows for the extraction of blood from the body, its purification through the dialysis machine to remove toxins and excess fluid, and the subsequent return of filtered blood to the patient.

During hemodialysis treatment, the dialysis access target includes the following:


Types Of Dialysis Access? 

Arteriovenous fistulas are considered the gold standard for dialysis access. They are created surgically by connecting an artery and a vein, usually in the forearm or upper arm.

Over time, the increased blood flow in the vein causes it to grow larger and stronger, providing a durable access point for repeated dialysis sessions. AVFs offer better long-term outcomes, lower infection rates, and fewer complications compared to other access types.

Arteriovenous grafts are an alternative to AVFs when the patient’s blood vessels are not suitable for fistula creation. AVGs involve using a synthetic tube or graft to connect an artery and a vein.

The graft is tunneled under the skin, creating an artificial access point for dialysis. While AVGs can be used when AVFs are not feasible, they have a higher risk of infection and thrombosis (clotting) compared to AVFs.

Central venous catheters are temporary or short-term dialysis access options. They are inserted into a large vein, typically in the neck, chest, or groin. CVCs consist of two or three lumens, allowing for both blood removal and return during dialysis.

Although CVCs provide immediate access, they have a higher risk of infections and complications. Therefore, they are usually reserved for emergency situations or when other access options are not immediately available.

Peritoneal dialysis (PD) utilizes a different approach, where a special dialysis solution is introduced into the abdominal cavity through a peritoneal dialysis catheter. The catheter is placed during a minor surgical procedure and remains in the abdomen for regular exchanges of the dialysis solution.

PD offers greater flexibility and independence, as it can be performed at home. However, it requires proper training, good manual dexterity, and suitable living conditions.

Tunneled dialysis catheters are similar to CVCs but are intended for long-term use. They are placed under the skin, with one end remaining outside the body for easy access during dialysis sessions.

Tunneled catheters have a lower risk of infection compared to regular CVCs but still carry a higher risk compared to AVFs or AVGs. They are often used as a temporary measure while waiting for a permanent access option to mature.


Why Choose Dialysis?

Dialysis is a medical treatment that is often recommended for individuals with kidney failure or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). It is a life-sustaining treatment that performs the essential functions of the kidneys when they are no longer able to adequately filter and remove waste products and excess fluid from the body. 

Here are some reasons why dialysis may be chosen as a treatment option:

Dialysis is a crucial treatment for individuals with kidney failure. When the kidneys are no longer functioning properly, dialysis helps to maintain the balance of electrolytes, remove waste products, and control fluid levels in the body.

Without dialysis or a kidney transplant, the accumulation of toxins and fluid can lead to life-threatening complications.

Dialysis can alleviate symptoms associated with kidney failure, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and swelling. By removing excess fluid and waste products, dialysis helps to restore a more balanced internal environment and improves overall well-being.

Dialysis can alleviate symptoms associated with kidney failure, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and swelling. By removing excess fluid and waste products, dialysis helps to restore a more balanced internal environment and improves overall well-being.

Dialysis plays a vital role in maintaining overall health for individuals with kidney failure. By effectively managing fluid levels, electrolyte balance, and removing waste products, dialysis helps prevent complications and organ damage associated with untreated kidney failure.

It can help individuals maintain a better quality of life and potentially extend their lifespan.

For individuals awaiting a kidney transplant, dialysis serves as a bridge therapy. Dialysis helps to sustain life and manage symptoms until a suitable donor kidney becomes available. It allows individuals to maintain their health and stability while awaiting transplantation.

Dialysis treatment plans can be tailored to meet the individual needs of patients. There are different types of dialysis, including hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, offering flexibility and options based on factors such as lifestyle, medical condition, and patient preference.

The healthcare team works closely with patients to develop a treatment plan that suits their specific needs and preferences.


Get Your Hemodialysis Treated by Expert Surgeons at Surgical Associates Chartered in Camp Spring & Waldorf, Maryland.        

If you need access to dialysis, then contact SAC to discuss your options. Our doctors have administered countless successful treatments that will give you the relief you need. To see what can be done about your condition, book an appointment today!