The board-certified physicians at Preferred Vascular Group specialize in vascular and interventional radiology, a branch of medicine that involves minimally invasive, image-guided treatment of medical conditions that once required open surgery.
Many of the interventional procedures and other treatments we provide rely on the use of catheters–a thin, sterile tube inserted through a small incision.
Most often, the physicians at PVG use a venous catheter to give temporary access to patients that need to start hemodialysis treatment immediately. The catheter is inserted into a vein in the neck or chest directly into the heart. The extensions hang outside of your chest or neck so that blood can flow to and from the dialysis machine.
Catheters are not ideal for the long-term access that dialysis patients generally require. However, for patients whose kidney disease has progressed quickly, a catheter can be used for several weeks or months while permanent access develops.
Catheters can clog, become infected and cause narrowing of the veins in which they are placed., which is why they need to be rinsed out, or flushed, using a heparin solution after every use. Flushing your catheter works to keep it clean and to prevent blood clots from blocking it. Your doctor and team will give you instructions as to how to care for your catheter at home.
For most dialysis patients, catheters are temporary until permanent access develops, at which point the catheter will be removed.
Permanent access options include:
- Fistula: Considered the gold standard for dialysis access, an arteriovenous fistula involves a direct connection between an artery and a vein. A fistula takes approximately 6-8 weeks to mature before it can be used for dialysis.
- Graft: A graft, or synthetic tube, can also be used to create a direct connection from an artery to a vein. Grafts are not suitable for all patients, but those that are can typically begin dialysis within 2-4 weeks of placement.
Once permanent access has been established patients should never try to take a catheter out themselves or put a catheter back that has come out prematurely. If you feel that your catheter is not working properly, call your doctor right away.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified physicians or have one of these highly-trained care providers reach out to you regarding catheter placement, flushing or removal, please click on a button below: