What Is Dialysis Access Care, and Why Is It Essential for Your Dialysis Treatment?                     

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
July 19, 2021

To receive one life-saving medical treatment, sometimes additional procedures need to be performed first. These procedures help prepare the patient’s body for the special treatment they are about to receive and ensure the process will go as planned. One form of preparation known as Dialysis Access Care helps prepare patients with chronic kidney disease for dialysis treatment.

How Does Dialysis Work?

Dialysis is a necessary treatment for patients who have kidney failure. It eliminates unwanted toxins, waste products, and excess fluids from the body. This process helps keep the patient’s blood clean while ensuring their system remains chemically balanced.

There are two types of dialysis treatment: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. 

With hemodialysis, a filtering membrane known as a dialyzer is inside the dialysis machine. The blood pulses through the machine and is cleaned by the filter before it goes back into the body.

With peritoneal dialysis, the membrane is inside the patient’s body. It is located inside the natural lining of the patient’s peritoneum or their abdomen. With this process, the blood never leaves the patient’s body.

For hemodialysis patients, to receive the life-saving treatment they need, dialysis access care is required.

What Is Dialysis Access Care?

This essential procedure is necessary for providing vascular access for hemodialysis. Dialysis access care allows the patient’s blood to flow through the tubes of a dialysis machine. The blood is passed through a special filter that cleans it, taking over the job performed by the kidneys in healthy people. The only way dialysis treatment can be carried out is by using dialysis access care, also known ashemo dialysis access or vascular access.

The Different Types of Dialysis Access

There are three different types of vascular access for hemodialysis treatment.

  • Fistula: with this option, an access point is made by joining a vein with an artery inside the arm.
  • Graft: with this option, access is made using a small piece of soft tube to join an artery and vein in the arm.
  • Catheter: with this option, a soft tube is placed inside a large vein, typically in the neck.

If a patient’s access point is a fistula or graft, a nurse or dialysis technician will place two needles into the access point to start treatment. The needles are connected to tubes that connect to the dialysis machine. The blood cycles through the machine using one tube. It is cleaned by the filter, then returns to the body by route of the other tube.

For patients with a catheter, the tube can be directly connected to the dialysis tubes without using a needle.

The fistula option is often the initial choice for hemodialysis patients. That is because there are generally fewer problems with this option and it usually lasts much longer. But some dialysis patients may not be able to use a fistula because they have weak blood vessels. When that happens, a graft is often used for dialysis access. Catheters are typically used for a temporary setup, but, in some cases, are a permanent access point.


It is essential to take care of your access regardless of whether you have a fistula, graft, or catheter. For a fistula or graft, washing the area with antibacterial soap every day and before dialysis treatment will prevent infections. For a catheter, always make sure the dressing remains clean and dry.

At South Valley Vascular, we offer Dialysis Access Care and other healthcare treatment options to ensure our patients receive the optimal support for their medical needs. We are dedicated to providing the highest level of vascular care to the residents of the Southern San Joaquin Valley and surrounding areas. Get in touch with us today at (559)625-4118 for more information.