What is haemodialysis access maintenance?
Haemodialysis is a method used to remove fluids and waste from the blood in patients with kidney failure. This requires that the patient’s blood flows into the haemodialysis filtering system. There are three main access routes for this: intravenous catheters (thin tubes which are placed in a blood vessel); arteriovenous (AV) fistulas (connections created between an artery and a vein); and synthetic grafts (artificial veins). Intravenous catheters are only used for short periods.
The most common access method is an AV fistula. This is a channel that is created by surgically joining an artery and a vein. Synthetic AV grafts are artificial vessels connecting an artery to a vein, and tend to be used when the patient is unsuitable for an AV fistula.
Both AV fistulas and synthetic grafts may become narrowed, thrombosed (obstructed by blood clots) or blocked. In order to keep them clear, you may undergo a percutaneous (through your skin) treatment, such as percutaneous thrombolysis, thrombectomy, balloon angioplasty and stenting. The process of keeping the AV fistula or graft clear is called haemodialysis access maintenance.
How do the procedures work?
Haemodialysis access maintenance procedures are performed on an out-patient basis and use fluoroscopic guidance. Your vital signs will be monitored during the procedure.