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Arteriovenous Fistula Creation For Hemodialysis


  • An arteriovenous (ahr-te-re-o-VE-nus) fistula (FIS-tu-lah), also called AVF, is a surgical connection of an artery directly to a vein. This is usually done in those needing hemodialysis. Hemodialysis is a treatment for acute (sudden) and chronic (long term) kidney failure. It uses a machine that works like the real kidneys to clean waste from your blood. The AVF will act as the bridge for blood to go into the hemodialysis machine. The fistula is usually done on the arm that is not always used (left arm if you are right handed and vice versa). It is where your caregiver puts needles during hemodialysis. Blood will go out from and come back to the AVF after being cleaned by the hemodialysis machine.
    Picture of a surgically created arteriovenous fistula
  • Healthy kidneys clean the blood by removing harmful substances like excess fluid, minerals, and toxic (harmful) wastes. They also make substances that help keep your bones strong and your blood healthy. Kidney failure causes harmful wastes to build up in your body, leading to a rise in your blood pressure. It may also cause your body to retain excess fluid and not make enough red blood cells. When this happens, you may need treatment to replace the work of your failing kidney. Having an AVF for hemodialysis may relieve your symptoms of kidney failure, and improve quality of life.


Take your medicine as directed:

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Ask your caregiver when you should return to have your AV fistula checked.

Caring for your arteriovenous fistula:

When you are allowed to bathe or shower, carefully wash your stitches with soap and water. Pat them dry with clean towel. You may have steri-strips (thin strips of tape) on your incision. Keep them clean and dry. As they start to peel off, let them fall off by themselves. Do not pull them off.

  • Take the bandage off the AVF 4 to 6 hours after dialysis.
  • Check your AVF every day for good blood flow by touching it with your fingertips. The buzzing sensation means that it is working. Check for bleeding, pain, redness, or swelling. These may be signs of infection or a clogged AVF.
  • To prevent damage to the AVF, no one should take your blood pressure or draw blood from the arm with the AVF. Do not wear tight clothes or jewelry, and avoid sleeping on that arm.


  • You have a fever.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery, or medicine.


  • Your AVF site has blood, pus, or a foul-smelling odor.
  • You have more pain in the area where the AVF was made.
  • You have trouble breathing all of a sudden.

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.