Dialysis is the most common treatment for kidney failure.
During dialysis, the patient is connected to an artificial kidney machine which removes impurities from the blood.
Dialysis access is the direct access to the patient’s blood stream in order to perform dialysis.
There are three types of accesses.
1) Arteriovenous fistula is the preferred method. The vascular surgeon connects a superficial arm vein to an artery.
2) Synthetic graft: the vascular surgeon places a synthetic graft under the skin which is connected to an artery and a vein.
3) Central venous catheter is a large catheter placed percutaneously in a neck, chest or leg vein.
Arteriovenous fistula is the safest of the three methods and lasts longer (average 3-7 years). Synthetic grafts are more vulnerable to infection and usually last about 1-2 years. Central venous catheters are used only if the other two methods are not possible.