Vascular Access Intervention

“Vascular access” is an artificially placed entryway into the bloodstream generally via the arm or leg that allows blood to be removed from the patient’s body and efficiently and safely returned during dialysis.

  • Arteriovenous (AV) Fistula: Considered the most effective option for patients requiring long-term dialysis, an AV fistula is created beneath the skin by connecting an artery directly to a vein which causes the vein to grow larger and stronger. The benefits include easier repeat insertions for dialysis, improved blood flow, and longer life-span and lower complication rates than other vascular access interventions. Advanced planning is recommended as it can take several months for a fistula to develop.
  • Arteriovenous Graft: Patients who have small or weak veins that will not develop fistulas may be more suited to an arteriovenous graft in which an artificial blood vessel is created by implanting a synthetic tube under the skin. The tube is then accessed for dialysis treatment.
  • Subcutaneous Hemodialysis Access System: With this access, a small metallic device is implanted beneath the skin in the upper chest. The device is connected to two flexible tubes which are inserted into a large vein for blood access.
  • Venous Catheter: A temporary access for patients requiring immediate dialysis involves inserting a catheter (or narrow tube) in the Endovascular Suite into a large vein in the neck, chest or near the groin. This is a short-term access often used when fistulas or grafts are being created. As an external access, the venous catheter has a greater risk of infection if used long-term.