Keeping your access working
Your dialysis care team will check your access often to make sure it is working well. An access that is not working well can decrease the amount of dialysis you receive. Your dialysis care team will teach you how to check your fistula or graft at home each day. Here are some tips you should follow to help keep a fistula or graft working longer:
- Check the blood flow several times each day by feeling for a vibration, also called a pulse or thrill. If you do not feel this, or if there is a change, call your doctor or your dialysis center.
- Do not wear tight clothes or jewelry on your access arm.
- Do not carry anything heavy or do anything that would put pressure on the access.
- Do not sleep with your head on the arm that has your access.
- Do not let anyone use a blood pressure cuff on your access arm.
- Do not let anyone draw blood from your access arm.
- Do not be afraid to ask your dialysis care team to rotate needle sites.
- Apply only gentle pressure to the access site after the needle is removed. Too much pressure will stop the flow of blood through the access.
- If you have breakthrough bleeding after you have dialysis, apply gentle pressure to the needle site with a clean towel or gauze pad. If the bleeding does not stop in 30 minutes, call your doctor or your dialysis center.