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Hemodialysis access - self care

Kidney failure - chronic-hemodialysis access; Renal failure - chronic-hemodialysis access; Chronic renal insufficiency - hemodialysis access; Chronic kidney failure - hemodialysis access; Chronic renal failure - hemodialysis access; Dialysis - hemodialysis access

An access is needed for you to get hemodialysis. Using the access, blood is removed from your body, cleaned by a dialyzer, then returned to your body.

Usually the access is put in a person's arm. But it can also go in your leg. It takes a few weeks to a few months to get an access ready for hemodialysis.

Taking good care of your access helps make it last longer.

 

Prevent Infection in Your Access

Keep your access clean. Wash the access with soap and water every day to decrease your risk of infection.

Do not scratch your access. If you scratch open your skin at the access, you could get an infection.

To prevent infection:

  • Avoid bumping or cutting your access.
  • Do not lift anything heavy with the arm with the access.
  • Use your access for hemodialysis only.
  • Do not let anyone take your blood pressure, draw blood, or start an IV in the arm with the access.

Keep Blood Flowing Through Your Access

To keep blood flowing through the access:

  • Do not sleep or lie on the arm with the access.
  • Do not wear clothes that are tight around the arms or wrists.
  • Do not wear jewelry that is tight around the arms or wrists.

Checking Your Access

Check the pulse in your access arm. You should feel blood rushing through that feels like a vibration. This vibration is called a "thrill."

Have the nurse or technician check your access before every dialysis.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your health care provider if:

  • You have any signs of infection, including redness, pain, pus, drainage, or you have a fever over 101°F (38.3°C).
  • You do not feel a thrill at your access.

References

National Kidney Foundation website. Hemodialysis access. www.kidney.org/atoz/content/hemoaccess. Updated 2015. Accessed September 4, 2019.

Yeun JY, Young B, Depner TA, Chin AA. Hemodialysis. In: Yu ASL, Chertow GM, Luyckx VA, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Taal MW, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 63.

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    • Dialysis

      Animation

    •  

      Dialysis - Animation

      Your kidneys are in charge of filtering wastes out of your blood. But, if your kidneys don't work as well as they should, you may need a procedure called dialysis, a process that removes wastes in place of your kidneys. Let's talk about dialysis. Your kidneys have several important jobs. In addition to filtering your blood, they help maintain just the right balance of water, acids, and minerals in your body. They also function as part of the endocrine system producing hormones. If you've had kidney disease for many years, or your kidneys have suddenly failed because of disease or injury, your doctor may recommend that you have dialysis, a treatment that replaces some of what the kidneys do, removing waste and excess fluid from your blood. It is sometimes used as a holding treatment while awaiting a kidney transplant. Here's how dialysis works. First, your doctor will need to create an access to reach your blood vessels. If you need dialysis only for a short period of time, that access will be made using a hollow tube, called a catheter. Usually the catheter is placed into a large vein in your neck, chest, or leg near your groin. If you're having dialysis for a longer period of time, you'll need a more permanent access. To create this access, your doctor will connect one of your arteries to one of your veins. Then whenever you have dialysis, a needle is simply placed into this access area. During each dialysis session, your blood is removed from your body through the needle. It's sent across a special filter, which removes harmful substances from your blood. Then, your clean blood is sent back into your body. Often, you'll visit a special center for dialysis about three times a week. Each session lasts three to four hours. Or, you may be able to do dialysis right at home three times a week or even daily. Home sessions are shorter, about 2 to 3 hours, and they're easier for your body to tolerate. Before you perform dialysis at home, a nurse will teach you how to place the needle, how to clean the machine, and monitor your blood pressure during treatment. It's important when you're having dialysis that you do all of your scheduled sessions. Also, call your doctor right away if you have any problems, like swelling, redness, fever, a drop in blood pressure, or bleeding. These could be signs that you've developed an infection or other complication from your dialysis, and need medical attention.

    • Dialysis

      Animation

    •  

      Dialysis - Animation

      Your kidneys are in charge of filtering wastes out of your blood. But, if your kidneys don't work as well as they should, you may need a procedure called dialysis, a process that removes wastes in place of your kidneys. Let's talk about dialysis. Your kidneys have several important jobs. In addition to filtering your blood, they help maintain just the right balance of water, acids, and minerals in your body. They also function as part of the endocrine system producing hormones. If you've had kidney disease for many years, or your kidneys have suddenly failed because of disease or injury, your doctor may recommend that you have dialysis, a treatment that replaces some of what the kidneys do, removing waste and excess fluid from your blood. It is sometimes used as a holding treatment while awaiting a kidney transplant. Here's how dialysis works. First, your doctor will need to create an access to reach your blood vessels. If you need dialysis only for a short period of time, that access will be made using a hollow tube, called a catheter. Usually the catheter is placed into a large vein in your neck, chest, or leg near your groin. If you're having dialysis for a longer period of time, you'll need a more permanent access. To create this access, your doctor will connect one of your arteries to one of your veins. Then whenever you have dialysis, a needle is simply placed into this access area. During each dialysis session, your blood is removed from your body through the needle. It's sent across a special filter, which removes harmful substances from your blood. Then, your clean blood is sent back into your body. Often, you'll visit a special center for dialysis about three times a week. Each session lasts three to four hours. Or, you may be able to do dialysis right at home three times a week or even daily. Home sessions are shorter, about 2 to 3 hours, and they're easier for your body to tolerate. Before you perform dialysis at home, a nurse will teach you how to place the needle, how to clean the machine, and monitor your blood pressure during treatment. It's important when you're having dialysis that you do all of your scheduled sessions. Also, call your doctor right away if you have any problems, like swelling, redness, fever, a drop in blood pressure, or bleeding. These could be signs that you've developed an infection or other complication from your dialysis, and need medical attention.

      Self Care

       
       

      Review Date: 7/16/2019

      Reviewed By: Walead Latif, MD, Nephrologist and Clinical Associate Professor, Rutgers Medical School, Newark, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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