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Dialysis Access

Your kidneys work to filter your blood of waste products and excess fluids. Kidney failure may occur due to a variety of medical conditions, making hemodialysis treatment a necessary and ongoing replacement. The process of hemodialysis requires access to your circulatory system, so that your blood can be directed to the external dialysis machine for filtering and then returned to your body. Insertion of a permanent dialysis access point (either a fistula or a graft) creates a portal for access into your bloodstream every time you undergo treatment. Your nephrologist will direct your hemodialysis treatment, usually occurring two to three times per week.

Treatment Options

Dialysis access involves outpatient surgery to build an entryway under the skin in either an arm or a leg for dialysis treatment. Our vascular specialists have extensive experience and expertise performing dialysis access procedures, including:

  • Fistula Placement Surgery—This procedure involves connecting one of your veins to an artery, usually in the arm. This results in the creation of a large blood vessel that allows for optimal blood flow.
  • Graft Placement Surgery—For patients with blocked or small veins, a graft can be a good alternative to a fistula. This procedure involves inserting a soft pliable synthetic tube to join one of your arteries to a vein.
  • Alternative Access—NorthShore physicians also have extensive experience with alternative access solutions, such as HeRO (hemodialysis reliable outflow) grafts and leg grafts. We are actively evaluating new, minimally invasive access procedures, including percutaneous fistula creation that may offer improved healing time and less scarring.

During your comprehensive evaluation, one of our experienced board-certified vascular surgeons will ask you about your medical history and conduct a physical exam to determine if you are a good candidate for either fistula or graft placement surgery. Our surgeons work closely with your nephrologist to coordinate your care. 

For More Information

Please call 847.663.8050 for more information on dialysis access or to schedule an appointment with one of our vascular surgery specialists.