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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about a fistulogram?

A fistulogram is a procedure to look for abnormal areas in your dialysis fistula or graft that may be causing problems with your dialysis. Problems may include areas of blocked veins or arteries, or abnormal narrowing.

How do I prepare for a fistulogram?

  • Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for your procedure. You may need blood tests to check your potassium level. Your provider may tell you not to eat or drink anything 4 to 8 hours before your procedure. You will be told what medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure. You may need to stop taking blood thinners or aspirin several days before your procedure. You may also need antibiotics to prevent infection.
  • You will be given contrast liquid during your procedure to help your blood vessels show up better in pictures. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Arrange for someone to drive you home after your procedure. If you get medicine to help you relax, you should not drive for 24 hours after your procedure.

What will happen during a fistulogram?

  • You may be given IV medicine to help you relax and local anesthesia to numb the area. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure, but you should not feel any pain. Your healthcare provider will insert a catheter into your graft or fistula. Contrast liquid will be injected through the catheter and several x-rays will be taken. You may feel warm or sick to your stomach as the contrast liquid is injected. This is normal and should go away in a few minutes.
  • Your healthcare provider may measure the blood flow or pressure in your graft or fistula. Tools may be inserted through the catheter to remove a blood clot or blockage. Your healthcare provider may also widen the opening of the fistula or graft and place a stent. The catheter will be removed when the procedure is complete. Your healthcare provider will hold pressure over the area for several minutes to control any bleeding.

What will happen after a fistulogram?

Healthcare providers will monitor the puncture site for bleeding. You may be able to go home or you may need to spend a night in the hospital. You may get dialysis after your procedure. Your arm or leg may be sore, swollen, and bruised after the procedure. This is normal and should get better in a few days.

What are the risks of a fistulogram?

Your healthcare provider may not be able to fix problems that he finds in your graft or fistula. You may get an infection or bleed more than expected. Your blood vessels, graft, or fistula may be damaged during the procedure. You may get a blood clot in your limb, lung, heart, or brain. The contrast liquid may cause kidney failure or an allergic reaction. These problems may become life-threatening.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

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