The kidneys are two important organs that help cleanse your blood, control blood pressure, and balance minerals in your body. The kidneys and the heart work closely together: the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, while the kidneys ensure that the blood is clean of any waste.
Kidney disease or kidney failure happens when the kidneys aren’t functioning at their optimal capacity. When this happens, patients rely on treatments such as hemodialysis to replace some of these functions. Hemodialysis is an artificial means of removing waste products from the blood through an artificial kidney. This type of treatment requires an access point into the blood vessels, which is created through a minor surgery using a fistula or graft.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, approximately 19% of hemodialysis patients in the U.S. rely on fistula or graft access to receive their dialysis treatment. While blood clots are a major complication of this procedure, there is also the risk of infection. The rate of fistula and graft infection ranges from 9% – 20%, depending on the placement of the access point.
We are committed to the health of patients undergoing hemodialysis treatment. Our compassionate group of multi-specialty physicians works closely together with the patient and their nephrologist to ensure a comprehensive healthcare experience.
Stephen Knight, who is a Radiology Practitioner Assistant, has over 14 years of experience in dialysis access and management. He says, “Fistulas are the best access method because we use the patient’s own body to fuse the artery and vein. However, if the patient’s veins are too small, we use the second best method – a graft – which uses synthetic material to join the artery and vein.”
First Coast Cardiovascular Institute provides access management services including hemodialysis fistula and graft duplex scans at both of our outpatient cath labs. The test uses ultrasound imaging to directly visualize the hemodialysis fistula or graft to ensure proper blood flow, which can detect potential fistula or graft failure. If left untreated, these problems can prevent patients from receiving their hemodialysis treatment. Our goal is to reduce patient’s risk of needing a hemodialysis catheter, as this type of access point is proximal to the heart, which increases the possibility of infection.