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Health Blog :: Dialysis Access Q&A

June 30, 2015

  • Why is a dialysis vascular access important to me?

Your access is your dialysis lifeline. You have only a few sites for dialysis access. It is important to care for your access so it will last as long as possible.

  • How can I keep my access working?

You can help keep your access working by avoiding infection, avoiding blockage, and injury to your access.

  • How can I prevent infection?

Keep your access clean.

Be sure to wash your access arm with antibacterial soap before each

dialysis. This can be done at the dialysis or at home.

Be sure betadine or alcohol is used (if you are not allergic) to clean your skin before needles are used on dialysis.

Tell your doctor or nurse if your access is warm, red, painful, has pus, or if you have a fever.

  • Who should I call if I have an access problem?

Call your Nephrologist’s office at (510) 841-4525, or the Dialysis Access Center at 510-251-1002 or call your nurse at your dialysis unit.

  • How can I avoid blockage in my access?

Learn how to feel the thrill (vibration) and listen for the bruit (buzzing) in your access.

Tell your nurse or dialysis doctor (Nephrologist) if the thrill or bruit changes.

Tell the nurse if your hand is cold, blue, numb, painful, or hard to move.

  • If my access is blocked, can it be fixed? How?

Yes, by doing a special X-ray called venogram, blockages can be certainly identified and fixed with a balloon (called angioplasty). Once blockages are fixed, your access will last longer and used on dialysis.

  • If my access is blocked, where can it be fixed?

The Dialysis Access Center, Inc. (DAC, Inc.), founded in 1997, is the leader in interventional nephrology procedures in Northern California with more than 20,000 procedures performed since its inception. DAC, Inc. performs a variety of procedures needed to fix the access including Thrombectomy of dialysis access, venogram and angioplasty, venogram venous mapping, dialysis catheter insertions, exchanges and removals. DAC, Inc. serves as an advocate for the provision of high-quality health care through adherence to nationally recognized standards of dialysis access care. DAC, Inc. has achieved re-accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). Accreditation distinguishes this ambulatory surgical clinic from many other outpatient facilities by providing the highest quality of care to its patients as determined by an independent, external process of evaluation. Please refer to DAC website at

  • Can my kidney doctor or nurse tell that my access is not working well? How do they know?

They also listen for the bruit and feel the thrill. They can also monitor the access on dialysis by measuring the blood flows, venous pressures and adequacy of dialysis. When they see changes out of the norm they refer you for venogram and angioplasty.

  • How do I avoid injuring my access?

Do not allow blood pressure or blood draws from this arm.

Learn how needle sites are rotated on your access. Be sure the correct site is used at each treatment.

Do not carry heavy weights across the access.

Avoid pressure on the access during sleep.

Avoid tight clothing. Avoid wearing a watch or hanging a purse over your access arm?

  • Where can I get more information about vascular access?

Ask your Nephrologist.

Ask your nurse at the dialysis unit.

Ask your nurse at the Dialysis Access Center.

Understanding your hemodialysis access options. To request a free copy, call the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) at

(800) 749-AAKP or visit their website at

Call the National Kidney Foundation at (800) 622-9010 or the local San Francisco office at (415) 543-3303 or visit their website at

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