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Arteriovenous Fistula Creation For Hemodialysis


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.



  • You may be given prescription pain medicine or antibiotics. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your pain medicine. Antibiotics fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Ask your healthcare provider when you need to return to have your AVF checked. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care for your AVF:

Your incision will be closed with either stitches or thin strips of tape. Ask when you can bathe. If you have stitches, carefully wash your stitches with soap and water. Pat them dry with a clean towel. If your incision was closed with thin strips of tape, keep it clean and dry. As the strips of tape start to peel off, let them fall off by themselves. Do not pull them off.

  • You may remove the bandage that covers your 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. Do not sleep on that arm.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

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

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.
  • Your AVF site has blood, pus, or a foul-smelling odor.
  • You have increased pain in the area where the AVF was made.

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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.