Vascular access

Before beginning hemodialysis treatment, a person needs an access to their bloodstream, called a "vascular access." The access allows the patient’s blood to travel to and from the dialysis machine at a large volume and high speed so that toxins, waste and extra fluid can be removed from the body.

There are three access types for hemodialysis: arteriovenous (AV) fistula, AV graft and central venous catheter. Each access is created surgically. There are a limited number of places on the body where an access can be placed—the arms, legs, neck or chest. The fistula and graft are considered to be permanent accesses because they are placed under the skin with a plan to use them for many years.

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