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How We Can Help Your Dialysis Experience

Dialysis is the life-saving treatment you need when your kidneys are too damaged to function. But before you can start dialysis, you need dialysis access, and that’s where our team at Vascular Specialists comes in.

We build the foundation for hemodialysis by creating your dialysis access. We then continue to care for your access, helping to ensure your dialysis is comfortable and free from potential risks like infections.

Here’s a quick rundown of the steps you’ll take to receive hemodialysis and how we can improve your experience:

Determining when you need dialysis

Without treatment, chronic kidney disease gets progressively worse, slowly damaging your kidneys until they fail and stop filtering wastes out of your blood.

Most people start hemodialysis when they lose 85-90% of kidney function. We make sure you’re ready for dialysis when you need it by creating dialysis access in the months before you face hemodialysis.

Dialysis access is a long-lasting way to access your blood vessels. A healthy access point ensures you can quickly and easily be connected to the hemodialysis machine.

Every time you have hemodialysis, two needles are inserted into your dialysis access and each needle is connected to a tube. One tube carries blood from your body to the dialysis machine.

Then your blood goes through the machine, where it’s filtered, leaves the machine, and returns to your body through the second tube.

Mapping your vessels to make dialysis access decisions

Before we recommend the best type of dialysis access, we map your arteries and veins using vascular ultrasound and, in some cases, an angiogram.

These tests show us the size and depth of your blood vessels. With this information, we can determine the best location and type of dialysis access.

Choosing the type of dialysis access

You can receive one of three types of dialysis access:

Arteriovenous fistula

We create a fistula by stitching an artery to a vein. As blood flows from the artery into the vein, blood pressure increases, and the vein slowly enlarges. This makes your hemodialysis easier by boosting the amount of blood flowing between you and the hemodialysis machine.

A fistula is preferred over a graft because it lasts longer and has a lower risk of developing clots or an infection.

Ellipsys® Vascular Access System

We also create AV fistulas with the Ellipsys Vascular Access System, an advanced needle-like device that we guide into the blood vessels. Once we position the device in your blood vessels, it creates a fistula using heat and pressure to fuse the artery and vein.

Arteriovenous graft

You may need a graft if you have small or weak veins. To create dialysis access with a graft, we use a hollow tube to connect the artery and vein. Though your veins enlarge and blood flow increases with a graft, synthetic grafts are more susceptible to infection and clotting.

Providing routine and rapid maintenance for dialysis access

Once your dialysis access is created, we teach you the daily care you need to follow to keep the access site healthy. But you aren’t on your own. For as long as you’re on hemodialysis, we maintain the access site.

By regularly examining and cleaning your dialysis access site, we can help prevent clotting and infections, a common and serious complication of dialysis access. 

If a clot develops, we offer same-day de-clotting care to be sure you can stay on your regular hemodialysis schedule and get the care you need without interruptions.

If you need hemodialysis access or have any questions about maintaining an existing access site, call Vascular Specialists, or book an appointment online.

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