- Can you grasp or hold the fistula needle with your hand opposite of your vascular access?
- Can you reach your fistula or graft with your hand while holding the needle?
- Can you reach to both the arterial (red) and venous (blue) needle locations? Note: if you can’t insert the arterial needle facing down towards your hand, your care team can consider inserting the arterial needle facing up towards your shoulder to make it easier for you to reach the right spot to insert the needle.
- Can you hold your own needle sites after dialysis?
- You won’t need the staff to stick your needles. This also helps when you travel, so you don’t have to have new staff learn your access. You can put in your own needles!
- You worry about yourself. Staff must learn many patients’ fistulas or grafts, but you just need to be an expert on your own.
- You know your body best. You can feel if the needle isn’t going into the fistula or graft properly and can quickly correct.
- You’re in charge and can take control of your fistula or graft care. This could help to protect and prolong the life of your fistula or graft. Lifeline for a lifetime is the goal!
It only takes a minute to see if your fistula or graft is working well.
The dialysis care team should check your fistula or graft every time you go for a treatment to make sure your vascular access is working well. They should look, listen, and feel your fistula or graft before the skin is cleaned. They need to use a stethoscope to listen to your “bruit,” the whooshing sound the blood makes as it flows through your fistula or graft. They will also feel for the “thrill,” the vibration/buzz of the blood moving through your fistula or graft. You should also get in the habit of checking your access every day, especially on days you don’t have dialysis treatment.