An arteriovenous graft is a form of dialysis access used for some kidney patients. It is created through a surgical procedure in which the surgeon connects an artery to a vein using a small tube. This procedure is generally performed on an outpatient basis, meaning that the patient goes home the same day as the surgery. An arteriovenous graft typically lasts between two and three years, although it can last longer in some cases. Potential complications include bleeding, the formation of blood clots, or the development of an infection.
The arteriovenous graft is most often placed in the arm. After the patient has been sedated or given medications to prevent pain, an incision is made into the arm. A plastic tube is then used to connect an artery to a vein, and the incision is closed. The patient is monitored for a while to make sure there are no complications. In most cases, the patient can go home the same day the procedure is performed, although some doctors may prefer to keep the patient in the hospital overnight for observation.
Although the most common use of the graft is for dialysis access, there may other reasons for this procedure in some instances. For instance, if there are blockages in the blood vessels that prevent proper blood circulation, the graft may be used to bypass the blockage. This procedure may also be used to repair damaged blood vessels.
It is very important that the patient take proper care of the arteriovenous graft in order to prevent complications such as infection. The bandage should be removed from the site of the graft four or five hours following dialysis treatments. Tight clothing and jewelry should not be worn over the graft. The patient should also be sure not to sleep on the arm that contains the graft.
The graft should be checked every day to make sure that there is adequate blood flow to the area. This can be accomplished by touching the graft area with the fingertips of the opposite hand. If there is a buzzing type of sensation present, the graft is working as it should. Any pain, bleeding, or swelling should be reported to a doctor for further evaluation. Any questions or concerns about the procedure or how to properly care for the graft should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.