Myths and Facts About Dialysis Access

Myths and Facts About Dialysis Access

Chronic kidney disease is a growing problem in the United States because two of the problem’s main drivers, diabetes and hypertension, are on the rise. About 37 million Americans have kidney disease, and nearly 786,000 have kidney failure and need dialysis and/or a kidney transplant. 

If you’re one of them, you’re understandably concerned and are likely seeking all the information you can find about your condition and dialysis treatments. 

Look no further. Our team at Rockland Thoracic & Vascular Associates specializes in dialysis access, and we’re here to set the record straight about the process. 

Myth 1: Dialysis means doom

Upon hearing you need dialysis, your first reaction may be that you’ve been given a death sentence. On the contrary — you’ve been given a life sentence. 

Dialysis steps in for your failing kidneys until your kidney condition resolves or you can get a transplant. On average, folks can live 5-10 years on dialysis, and many enjoy up to 30 years.

Myth 2: Dialysis access hurts

Hemodialysis, the process of removing blood from your body, processing it through a machine to clean it, and returning it to your body, requires a special port for tube access.

Creating your dialysis access port requires a surgical procedure. We make an arteriovenous (AV) fistula by taking a portion of a vein from your leg and attaching it to an artery in your arm. 

Once you’ve healed from this minor surgery, you won’t feel any pain in the area. Some people report minor discomfort for a moment when the needle enters the access port at the beginning of a dialysis session, but it’s brief and tolerable.

Myth 3: My veins are too small for dialysis access

You can still get dialysis even if your veins are small. In this case, we create a different kind of port called an AV graft. Instead of using a vein from your leg, we use a prosthetic made of soft tubing and join it with an artery in your arm. 

Myth 4: I can’t get a fistula or graft, so I’m out of options

Getting an AV fistula or graft requires strong, healthy veins. If you have weak or damaged veins that aren’t conducive to creating a fistula or graft dialysis access port, you still have hope.

We can insert a catheter into a vein in your neck to create temporary access. Although fistulas and grafts are the best options, a catheter comes in handy in a few situations:

There are two types of catheters: The non-cuffed version is designed for short-term use (up to three weeks), and the cuffed version can remain in place longer. 

Myth 5: Caring for a dialysis access port is complicated

Your dialysis access is an entry point into your body, so you need to take care of it and keep it clean. But the process is easy and doesn’t require much time or effort. Simply cleanse the area with antibacterial soap every day, especially before a dialysis session.

If you have a catheter, keep it clean and dry, and change the dressing regularly. 

Inspect your dialysis access port daily, checking for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, discoloration, oozing, and warmth, and report these symptoms immediately.

You don’t have to take care of your dialysis access alone. Our Rockland Thoracic & Vascular team is here to help you maintain a clean, healthy port. We schedule regular appointments with you, so we can check your dialysis access and treat any problems that may arise. 

Should you develop an issue like a blood clot or narrowing of the fistula, we can address it immediately with balloon angioplasty, stenting, or any other necessary procedure.

Getting a dialysis access port is a simple, life-saving procedure. If you need one, trust our experts to ensure you have reliable access to your dialysis treatments. 

Call us today or book online at your convenience. We have locations in Pomona, Goshen, Fishkill, and the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, New York, and one in Englewood, New Jersey, to serve you.

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