Why dialysis?

Dialysis access plays a crucial role in the treatment of patients suffering from kidney diseases. It allows blood to travel through soft tubes to the dialysis machine, where it is cleaned as it passes through a special filter called a dialyzer. This process of hemodialysis requires repeated and reliable access to the bloodstream, usually through a vein in the arm or leg.

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Benefits of dialysis access management 

There are several benefits of dialysis access management in Wausau, WI. It can prolong the life of the Fistula or Graft, which are types of vascular access created for long-term dialysis treatments. An arteriovenous (AV) fistula, made by connecting a patient's own artery and vein, usually in the arm, allows for an increased blood flow rate that helps enlarge and strengthen the vein. An AV graft, which connects an artery and a vein using a synthetic tube, is a great alternative if your veins are too small or weak for a fistula. It offers better blood flow and has a lower risk of infection than other types of access.

What is dialysis access?

Dialysis access is a surgically created avenue in the body that allows for the efficient and safe removal and return of blood during dialysis treatments. It's essentially the patient's lifeline during dialysis, providing a repeatable entry point without causing frequent damage to veins and arteries.

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Dialysis access methods

There are three primary options when it comes to dialysis access:

AV Fistula

An AV fistula is the most preferred option for hemodialysis access, where a vein from the arm or leg is connected to an adjacent artery.

AV Graft

A prosthetic graft is sometimes used for hemodialysis access when we are unable to link the artery and vein.

Peritoneal Dialysis Catheter

A home-based option with an abdominal tube that uses the peritoneum to filter blood. The PD catheter is an alternative to hemodialysis done at home daily, which may be a great option for some patients needing dialysis.

The need for dialysis access

Kidney failure compromises the body's ability to clean and filter blood, leading to elevated electrolyte levels. Dialysis becomes a necessary intervention, making the establishment of dialysis access a proactive step toward health. Permanent methods like AV fistula, AV graft, or peritoneal dialysis are recommended for efficient and long-lasting access.

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Understanding dialysis access procedures

The creation of an AV fistula or AV graft involves a series of steps:


Mapping veins using ultrasound to determine suitability for an AV fistula; if veins are too small, an AV graft is considered.


Depending on the procedure and patient's needs, local, regional, or general anesthesia is administered.

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Postoperative care for dialysis access

After the operation, care includes avoiding pressure on the access site, regular inspections for signs of bleeding or infection, and adhering to recommended healing periods. This comprehensive guide aims to help patients navigate the journey of dialysis access with confidence.

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Why choose Surgical Associates for your dialysis access?

Surgical Associates, serving North Central Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan since 1985, offers specialized surgical expertise in areas like hernia, thyroid, vascular, and more. Our renowned, highly experienced providers ensure top-tier care in our AAAHC-accredited practice. Featuring a Vascular Office-Based Lab with the latest technology, we provide fast and comfortable recovery experiences. We emphasize patient education, individualized care, and the use of advanced techniques for optimal outcomes. With our high nurse-to-patient ratio, patients receive focused, high-quality care. Trust your health to our team of experts, where professional skill meets compassionate care. For a tailored healthcare experience, schedule your consultation with Surgical Associates today.

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