One of the most important steps prior to starting hemodialysis is preparing a vascular access. Vascular access refers to a particular site on your body from which your blood could be removed and returned. A vascular access is often prepared several weeks or months before the hemodialysis is started. A prominent advantage of vascular access is that it enables easier and efficient removal and replacement of blood and that too, with very less complications. A standard hemodialysis treatment involves the continuous processing of around 200-500 mL of blood per minute over a 2-6 hour period and is usually performed on 2 or 3 times per week basis.
A vascular access should always be prepared weeks or months prior to the dialysis. The early preparation of the vascular access will facilitate efficient removal and replacement of your blood with fewer risks or complications. A properly functioning vascular access should have these characteristics:
- Perfectly safe and well tolerated
- Involves less complications
- Provides continuous access to circulation
- Provides continuous flow of blood of around 200-500 mL per minute
- Easy to place and easy to use
- Fully acceptable to the patient
- Painless and cosmetically acceptable
The three important types of vascular access for hemodialysis are an Arteriovenous (AV) fistula, an AV graft, and a Venous catheter.