What is an AV graft?
When your kidney function consistently declines, you and your physician are concerned about impending kidney failure, and dialysis is fast becoming your only option, you’ll need to discuss an dialysis access with your physician and with us, your vascular surgeons.
ith a minor surgical procedure, our vascular surgeons can create an arteriovenous graft to provide access for the equipment which removes wastes and fluid from your blood. A graft will increase blood flow and strengthen the vein to allow an even greater flow, making dialysis efficient and effective.
Time is a significant deciding factor in the choice of access that will be created, along with the size and health of your veins. When dialysis needs to begin quickly, a graft can heal and be ready to be used for dialysis within 3 to 6 weeks. If your veins are too small or blocked by scarring, a graft will be your best option.
An AV graft is an artificial tube, a loop made of plastic or synthetic materials, that is used to join your artery to your vein within your arm, usually in your upper arm or in the bend of your arm. After your surgery heals, you will be able to take showers.
An AV graft provides excellent blood flood when it matures. Needles will be used to access the graft to connect your blood vessels to the dialysis equipment.
After surgery, you will be encouraged to strengthen your veins by squeezing a stress ball. Proper care of your access is vital to its long term health. Complications can include:
- “steal”, when the fistula causes too much blood to flow away from your hand
- formation of an aneurysm in the access
AV grafts are not long-lasting and they are prone to infection and clotting.
Wash your access site each day with an antibacterial soap and pat dry. Do not scratch or rub near your access site. Do not have your blood pressure measured on your arm with your access, or have blood taken from that arm. Check the flow of your blood, called a thrill or bruit, daily and call us if it seems different or you cannot find it.
While this access matures, and for as long as you continue dialysis, our doctors will care for and monitor the function of this access. If at any time your access bleeds, or is red, painful, swollen, warm or cold, call our office immediately. Call our office if you feel short of breath, experience chills or aches or have a temperature. When your access arm tingles, feels cold or weak or if your fingertips are blue or sore, call us immediately.