What is the Ellipsys Access System?

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. 

Vascular Specialists is proud to be the leading Chicagoland provider of the FDA-approved Ellipsys Vascular Access System, performing the first-ever Ellipsys procedures at Advocate Aurora South Suburban Hospital in August of 2020. 

Ellipsys Vascular Access System completely changes how fistulas are created and dramatically improving quality of life for patients. 

The Ellipsys System is non-surgical and minimally invasive, creating a fistula in a procedure that lasts, on average, about 17 minutes instead of hours. This permanent fistula can be utilized for dialysis within weeks instead of months. 

Time is a significant deciding factor in the choice of access that will be created, along with the size and health of your veins. If you are facing dialysis in less than 3 months and your veins and arteries are otherwise healthy, the Ellipsys Vascular Access System may be your best choice. 

Using only a local anesthesia, your vascular surgeon will use high frequency ultrasound to map the veins and arteries in the forearm to identify serviceable blood vessels. Still using ultrasound guidance, your vascular surgeon will use a small needle to access the identified vein. It will then pierce through the vein wall and through the wall of the desired artery. The needle will be removed and a sheath put in its place. The Ellipsys catheter slides through the sheath, with the tip of the catheter placed in the artery. 

Using low power thermal energy, the catheter cuts an opening in each blood vessel and then fuses the tissue to create a permanent cross connection between the blood vessels, all without sutures or plastic tubes. 

The advantages of using this groundbreaking Ellipsys procedure are numerous, including:

  • Lower cost
  • Faster access maturation
  • Minimally invasive endovascular procedure
  • Creates an arteriovenous (AV) fistula without implants or sutures
  • Creates a permanent intravascular seal between vein and artery
  • Vascular bed stays intact
  • Under 30 minutes procedure time
  • Local anesthesia 
  • Patient leaves with a band aid on the wound
  • No lumps, bumps or scars in patient arm
  • Increased patient satisfaction

The Journal of Vascular Surgery reported in October 2018 that the procedure saw a 94% success rate, with the fistulas either already being used or ready for use in just six weeks. They also noted that the ease and simplicity of the procedure could reduce the risk of thrombosis, blood clot formation, and reduce the likelihood of later revisions or interventions. 

After surgery, you will be encouraged to strengthen your veins by squeezing a stress ball. While complications with Ellipsys are very rare, they can include:

  • “steal”, when the fistula causes too much blood to flow away from your hand
  • clotting
  • infection
  • narrowing
  • bleeding
  • formation of an aneurysm in the access

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 your 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.

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