The Importance of Protecting Your Arteriovenous Fistula during Dialysis

Arteriovenous Fistula

With more than 16% of the Indian population suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease, the need to spread awareness and encourage those who are at risk to seek immediate medical help is paramount. Under normal circumstances, your kidney should be able to purify your blood and remove toxins and excess fluids from your body. The proper functioning of your kidneys ensures that waste and excess water does not build up within the body.

For people who suffer from renal failure, repeated dialysis procedures are a must. There are two types of dialysis that a kidney patient can undergo:

  1. Peritoneal dialysis: A catheter is placed inside the abdomen by way of a surgery. After this, a special cleansing fluid is passed to your abdomen to absorb toxins from blood. This fluid is then drained.
  2. Hemodialysis: In hemodialysis, blood is removed from the body and passed through a dialyzer, also known as an artificial kidney, and then returned to the body after it is filtered. In order to reach the blood for hemodialysis, a vascular access (a connection between a vein and artery) is artificially created by the doctor.

 

What is an AV Fistula?

If you are undergoing a hemodialysis treatment, your doctor will have to artificially create an arteriovenous (AV) fistula within your body. An AV fistula is a connection that is made between a vein and an artery to directly access the bloodstream during hemodialysis.

An AV fistula is the most preferred type of access by most doctors (however, your doctor may choose a different access that’s best suited to your needs). The reason an AV fistula is preferred is because the access is made by connecting the patient’s own blood vessels. There is no insertion of foreign bodies like an AV graft or a catheter, thereby making it less prone to infections.

Here are some do’s and don’ts you should follow to take care of your AV fistula:

 

1. Taking care of your AV fistula immediately after leaving the hospital

  • Keep your arm elevated to reduce the risk of clotting and swelling
  • Watch out for blood oozing out of your dressing
  • Make sure you are able to move your hand around freely
  • Look out for numbness or paleness on your fistula arm
  • Keep your dressing dry for 48 hours
  • Do not lift weights

 

2. Strengthening your fistula and keeping it disinfected

  • Strengthen your fistula arm by regularly exercising it
  • Watch out for any swelling or discoloration around your fistula
  • Look out for any pain you may experience while moving your access arm
  • Consult your doctor immediately if you notice signs of a fever
  • Wash your hand before touching or patting the fistula area
  • Keep the area around your fistula disinfected by washing it with soap and water
  •  Protect your fistula arm from any injury
  • Take medications as directed

 

3. Ensuring optimum blood flow through the fistula

  • Avoid wearing a watch, jewellery or tight-fitting clothes over your AV fistula
  • Make sure your head does not rest on  your AV fistula while you are asleep
  • Use your non-fistula arm when having your blood pressure taken
  • Don’t carry bags or covers with straps that can tighten around the fistula

 

4.  Checking the blood flow through the fistula

  • Hold your fingers over your AV fistula to feel the blood flowing through it
  • Listen to the blood flow by placing a stethoscope over the fistula
  • Watch out for any changes in sound or flow

Undergoing dialysis treatment requires constant attention, and caring for your AV fistula is of utmost importance. It is equally essential to plan your procedure sittings in advance and make them cashless to help alleviate any inconvenience.

MediBuddy’s eCashless feature helps you avail provisional pre-authorization for cashless hospitalization right from the comfort of your home, ahead of the date of the procedure! A couple of clicks on MediBuddy is all you need to book an eCashless request for your dialysis treatment. Learn more here.

Life with arteriovenous fistula can be miserable. But, there is no reason why
you should have to live with them. Treatment is easily available and even the
surgeries are simple and risk-free. Consult a doctor on MediBuddy who’ll be
able to tell you how you can manage and treat this condition.