Dialysis 101: Understanding an AV Fistula

Dialysis is a treatment option used by people diagnosed with end stage kidney disease. Depending on the condition, dialysis can be both a short and long-term treatment option.

Oftentimes, dialysis is negatively portrayed as a painful and unenjoyable experience. This is actually far from the truth as technology has developed to make dialysis treatments convenient and accessible from anywhere, even at home.

If you are preparing for dialysis, you might want to familiarize yourself with the process. If so, you have come to the right place. This article will discuss the basics of dialysis as well as the function of the AV fistula.

What is Dialysis?

Dialysis is a kidney treatment that filters harmful substances and wastes from your blood and remove excess fluid. Essentially, a dialysis machine will do the job your kidneys are no longer capable of doing.

Dialysis is not a cure for kidney disease. Therefore, people with chronic kidney disease or failure will have to spend the rest of their life on dialysis unless they can find a kidney donor.

Is Dialysis Convenient?

Yes. You can receive a dialysis treatment on your schedule. This allows you to continue working and living the life you once led. You can even opt to receive your treatment at night.

You’ll enter your dialysis treatment facility at your scheduled time and get hooked up to the machine. Finally, you can decide to go to sleep, talk with the staff or other patients, read, or watch TV.

Lastly, you can elect to have your dialysis treatments taken at home. However, you’ll need to consult with your doctor about this option.

They’ll need to conduct a mental and physical assessment to determine if at-home dialysis is right for you.

Is Dialysis Painless?

For the most part yes, but there can be some issues. A standard dialysis treatment is painless. However, you can experience dizziness, cramping and other abnormal symptoms. Also, patients have to get used to being stuck with two needles when getting hooked to the machine. Your doctor can prescribe medicine to you to combat these symptoms and make your treatments more comfortable.

What Happens If I Miss a Treatment?

Remember, your kidneys are supposed to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Dialysis is the machine keeping your body regulated, so missing a treatment could cause hazardous waste to quickly build-up.

This can increase your chances of a stroke, heart attack, or death. Simply put, it’s important to not only attend every single dialysis treatment but also to stay for the entire duration of your treatment to prolong your health.

Will I Be Able to Travel?

Yes. Dialysis doesn’t mean you have to alter your life. You’ll still be able to travel. All you have to do is consult with your doctor and they should be able to accommodate you.

Depending on your destination, you’ll be able to visit a dialysis facility to continue your regular treatments. It’s still important that you attend each treatment without a delay to avoid being rushed to the hospital afterward.

What am I Allowed to Eat?

Maintaining a healthy diet is an essential part of managing your kidney disease. At the onset of your diagnosis, you should be referred to a dietician that will advise you on all the foods you should be eating, and which you should avoid.

What is an AV Fistula?

An AV fistula is a connection between a vein and an artery for dialysis access. In an operating room, a surgical procedure is carried out to combine two vessels to create a fistula.

This vessel must be durable enough to stay together for several years of dialysis treatment. Through effective surgical techniques, a fistula can last for several years without collapsing.

If you’re nervous about how a fistula works, you can consult with your surgeon to learn more.

How is an AV Fistula Used During Dialysis?

Through an AV fistula, patients are connected to a dialysis machine. A nurse begins your dialysis treatment by inserting two needles into the fistula.

The first fistula removes the blood from your body and sends it to the machine, where it gets filtered. The second needle allows the blood to return to your body. A dialysis treatment takes between three to four hours to complete.

Generally, patients will need to participate in at least three treatments per week.

When Does Surgery Take Place?

Surgery is typically performed at least six months before the first dialysis treatment. However, it can take several weeks for the fistula to heal before it becomes durable enough for successful dialysis treatments.

As the weeks progress, the flow increases as the artery walls stretch. Once this happens, the veins stretch as well, causing a long-lasting access point for nurses to use at any time.

The healing process is painless for the most part. If you are experiencing discomfort in the aftermath of your surgery, please consult your doctor immediately.

Are There Any Alternatives?

Receiving an AV fistula is one of the best ways to receive dialysis, primarily because it’s a long-term installation that makes the entire procedure more convenient.

It also carries a very low risk of infection. Nonetheless, there are several alternatives you can consider with your doctor. If you do not have a vein that meets the sufficient size required for an AV fistula, in that case, a catheter is inserted in the next until a long-term solution can be derived. This can also happen if urgent dialysis is necessary.

How Much Fluid Can I Drink?

It depends. How much fluid you drink depends on how much urine you can make each day. Your dietician and nephrologist will work with you to determine how much fluids you can have.

It’s important to remember that foods like, popsicles, ice cream, and even gelatin can count as fluids. It may take some time to adapt to your new diet. Your dietician will give you tips on how you can properly measure your fluid intake and how you can manage your thirst.

Give Us a Call Today!

As you can see, dialysis is a very important procedure. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, give contact us at (210) 212-8622 for more information.

How to Understand Blood Pressure Readings

Doctors test blood pressure to see if the blood flow around the circulatory system is normal, low, or high. Too low or high blood pressure can lead to significant health complications like stroke, cardiac arrest, kidney failure, or brain damage.

Read More »

Comprehensive kidney care at state-of-the-art facilities

South Texas Renal Care Group offers everything from diagnostic testing and dialysis to guidance on kidney transplantation and clinical trial opportunities, right here in our modern, comfortable offices. We have many locations throughout San Antonio and South Texas, so you can spend less time traveling and more time focusing on your health.

Dedicated to meeting your individual needs

At South Texas Renal Care Group, you have our undivided attention every step of the way. You’ll receive the expert treatment you need and the personal care and attention you deserve.