What is kidney failure?
The kidneys are responsible for removing excess fluid and waste products from the body in the form of urine.
When the kidneys do not work properly, these substances accumulate in your blood and can cause problems that could be life-threatening and can impact nearly every aspect of your body.
Damage to the nervous system can cause fatigue, nausea, personality changes and seizures. Excess fluid can cause swelling in your limbs and affect your ability to breathe. And electrolyte imbalance may result in life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms.
What is a dialysis fistula?
A dialysis fistula is a surgically created connection between an artery and a vein in your arm. It is used to provide long-term access to your bloodstream for hemodialysis, a type of dialysis that removes waste products and extra fluid from your blood when your kidneys can no longer do it.
Why do I need a dialysis fistula?
If you have kidney failure, you will need some form of dialysis to help your body function. Hemodialysis is the most common type of dialysis, and it requires a permanent access to your bloodstream.
A dialysis fistula is the preferred type of access because it is more reliable and less likely to become infected than other types of access, such as a catheter.
How is a dialysis fistula created?
The creation of a dialysis fistula is a minor surgical procedure that is usually performed in an outpatient setting. The vascular surgeon will make an incision in your arm and connect an artery and a vein. The fistula will take several weeks to mature, so you will not be able to start hemodialysis right away.
What are the risks of having a dialysis fistula?
The risks of having a dialysis fistula are relatively low. However, there is a small risk of bleeding, infection, and clotting. You should also be aware that the fistula can become blocked or narrowed, which can make it difficult to use for hemodialysis.
Interventional radiologists play an integral role in the management of patients with kidney failure by delivering minimally invasive treatments with less risk, less pain, and less recovery time than traditional surgery.
When there is a blockage preventing passage of urine from the kidney to the bladder, an interventional radiologist can place a percutaneous nephrostomy tube or ureteral stent to allow urine to flow from the kidney.
For instances when patients require hemodialysis, an interventional radiologist can place a hemodialysis catheter or be part of a team that connects an AV fistula to blood vessels.
Percutaneous nephrostomy tube bypasses a blockage of the ureter (tube connecting the kidney and bladder) and directs urine into a bag outside of the body.
Ureteral stent placement inserts a tiny mesh tube to bypass a blockage of the ureter, connecting the kidney and bladder.
AV fistula is a connection between an artery and vein that gives an access point for dialysis.
Hemodialysis catheter is a temporary access point to allow for dialysis when an AV fistula is not available.