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About Vascular Access for Dialysis

Kidney Disease

In Kentucky and throughout the United States, kidney disease has become increasingly common. Today, more than 20 million Americans battle kidney disease. Of all diseases affecting the kidneys, the most devastating is kidney failure, also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 360,000 Americans undergo some form of dialysis treatment each year to treat ESRD. Kidney and urologic disease are the leading causes of work loss, physician visits and hospitalization each year.

Vascular Access

For hundreds of thousands of Americans undergoing regular dialysis treatment, vascular access provides a means for the body's circulatory system to be reached for dialysis treatment. Dialysis typically is needed when end-stage renal disease patients lose 85 to 90 percent of their kidney function.

During dialysis, blood is circulated through a dialysis machine that works in place of the kidneys by removing waste, salt and excess water from the body while helping keep a safe level of certain chemicals such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonate in the blood. Dialysis also helps control blood pressure.

The access allows blood to travel through soft tubes to the dialysis machine where it is cleaned as it passes through a special filter, called a dialyzer. Initially, an access point is created through minor surgery. Varying types of access are created for dialysis treatment, but regardless of the type, it is extremely important to keep the access site healthy and clean.

Sometimes, even when patients are very careful, access may clot or become infected. If an infection occurs, a physician may order antibiotics to treat the infection and keep it from spreading. If the access develops a clot, the patient may need immediate attention to re-open the site.

Since most ESRD patients receive dialysis on a regular schedule, often multiple times a week, retaining vascular access is crucial.

Additional Information

For more information about vascular access services or to schedule an appointment, call the Norton Audubon Vascular Access Center at (502) 636-8866.

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