The three most types of dialysis access are arteriovenous (AV) Fistulas, AV grafts and catheters.
An arteriovenous (AV) fistula is created when an artery is
connected directly to a vein, often in the forearm. This allows blood to flow into
the vein and causes the vein to grow larger and stronger, making repeated
needle insertions for dialysis possible. Fistulas have proven to be beneficial
for long term dialysis because they can last longer and are less likely to
become infected or clotted.
If you have small veins that won’t develop properly into a fistula,
a plastic tube or graft can be implanted under the skin to connect between the
artery and vein. The graft becomes an artificial vessel that can be used
repeatedly for needle placement during dialysis.
If your kidney disease has progressed quickly, you may need
to have a venous catheter as a temporary access. A catheter is a tube that is
inserted into a vein in your neck, chest or leg. A catheter has two chambers
that allow a two-way flow of blood so needle insertion is not needed. Catheters
are not ideal for permanent access, but they can be used temporarily while a permanent