Arteriovenous Fistula Creation For Hemodialysis
What you should know
An arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is a surgical connection of an artery to a vein. This is a common procedure for hemodialysis. The fistula is usually done on the nondominant arm. For example, if you are right-handed, the AVF will be created on your left arm. Blood will go out from and come back to the AVF after it is cleaned by the hemodialysis machine.
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You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. You could have trouble breathing or get blood clots. You may have continued pain or swelling after the surgery. The surgery may not be successful and may need to be done again. If you do not have surgery, your symptoms may get worse.
The week before your surgery:
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
- Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- Tell your caregiver if you have had previous catheters, procedures, or surgery done on your arms. Your caregiver may also ask you more about your previous diseases or medicines that you are taking.
- You may need to have blood tests, an electrocardiogram (ECG), a chest x-ray, and other tests. Ask your caregiver for more information about these tests. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
The night before your surgery:
- You may be given medicine to help you sleep.
- Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
The day of your surgery:
- Ask your caregiver before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
- Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
- An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
What will happen:
You may be given anesthesia to control pain during the surgery. During your surgery, an incision will be made on your skin between the blood vessels. Tools will be used to separate the vein and the artery from nearby tissues. Once the blood vessels are seen, your caregiver will decide on how to join them together. Incisions will be made on both vessels, and they will be attached with stitches. After the vessels are joined together, the other ends of the artery and vein will be tied and cut. This is done to direct the blood to enter into a single passageway. Once the fistula is created, the skin will be closed with stitches.
After your surgery:
You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot make it to your surgery on time.
- You have a fever.
- You have a skin infection or an infected wound near the area where the surgery will be done.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery.
Seek Care Immediately if
- The problems for which you are having surgery get worse.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.