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Renal Replacement Therapies

Caring for your access sites

Arteriovenous Fistulas and Grafts      

Once your fistulas and grafts have been formed it is important to remember these pointers to protect and maintain your access sites.

  • Take your blood pressure on the arm that does not have the graft or fistula
  • Avoid having blood drawn or IV’s inserted on your dominant arm
  • Avoid wearing tight watches or sleeves around the fistula or graft
  • Avoid sleeping on that arm for long periods of time
  • You CAN work, exercise and bathe normally
  • Watch for signs of infection: redness, pus, and/or tenderness
  • Do not lift heavy objects or put extra pressure on the access arm

Your health care provider will give you more information about caring for your fistula or graft that are specific to your needs.

Central Venous Catheter

 The major short term risks of having a central venous catheter inserted into the body are infection and clot formation. During your dialysis treatment you may find that your nurse fills your catheter with a solution at the end of each dialysis treatment to prevent clots forming in the line. Patients may need to take blood thinner medications such as Heparin to keep the catheter working longer.

Here are some important points to remember when caring for your central venous line:

  • Avoid getting the central line wet (from swimming or bathing )
  • Keep the dressing dry and in place at all times unless being changed by a nurse
  • Avoid pulling the catheter
  • Never remove the caps on the ends of the central venous line
  • Keep the dressing dry when washing

Notify you doctor right away if the following occurs:

  • Fevers or chills
  • Sweating or tenderness at the access site
  • New arm or facial swelling
  • Bleeding from the catheter or surrounding area when you are not on the dialysis unit