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An arteriovenous fistula or AV fistula is a connection between the artery and vein made by a vascular surgeon at the time of hemodialysis. Hemodialysis is a treatment for kidney failure that involves a machine called dialyzer to filter the blood and remove the toxins. In order to gain a safe and easy access to the blood system during hemodialysis, the AV fistula is essential.
An AV fistula is placed in the upper arm and it causes extra pressure and extra blood to flow into the vein, thereby making it stronger and larger.
Benefits of AV Fistula
- Lower complication rates
- Less prone to injection or blood clotting
- Enables greater blood flow
- Relatively less expensive to maintain with a longer lifespan
Types of Fistula for Dialysis
All AV fistulas are created from the native blood vessels of the body, without any synthetic materials. The surgical process is quick and simple and requires a maturation time, in order to enable an increase and thickening of vessel walls.
- Radial Cephalic Fistula – This access involves a connection of the radial artery and cephalic vein. It is the hardest to create and has a lower blood flow than the other types. Typically the first choice for hemodialysis access, the radial cephalic fistula at the wrist is recommended.
- Brachial Cephalic Fistula – It is the easiest fistula that can be created by connecting the upper arm cephalic vein to the brachial artery. This access allows for a higher blood flow since the blood vessels in this part of the body are relatively larger. Also, it is easier to cannulate or introduce a tube into the vein, with a larger possible selection of cannulation sites.
- Brachial Basilic Fistula – This access is more complex to create and typically considered when multiple access procedures have failed previously. It requires the vein to be elevated and transposed in order to enable easy access. A mobilized vein from a deep location is connected to a superficial tunnel.
How does the AV Fistula Work?
Before surgery is done to insert the fistula, the surgeon may perform a vessel mapping test to analyze blood vessels and determine the best blood vessels to use. Once the surgery is performed, the fistula needs 2 to 3 months to mature and accustomed to the body before it can be used for hemodialysis.
At the start of the dialysis, the patient or healthcare provider inserts two needles into the access. One needle referred to as the arterial needle carries the blood from the body to the dialyzer machine. The dialyzer performs the kidney’s function to filter out the toxins and then it returns the filtered blood through another tube. The other venous needle carries the filtered blood back to the body.
Kidney is a crucial detoxifying organ that performs a lot of functions including, absorption of minerals, filtration of blood and production of hormones and urine. It also helps your body to maintain a healthy PH level. Since kidney failure can prove to be fatal, it is essential to keep it healthy, to ensure smooth function of your system.
The following are the tips to ensure the health of your kidneys:
- Adequate intake of water: It is advised to drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water daily, to help your kidneys function properly. Adequate intake of water ensures that your body is able to flush out the harmful toxins at regular intervals. However, in case if you are already suffering from kidney disease, this point is not applicable.
- Control your blood pressure and blood sugar level: Diabetes is one of the major causes of kidney failure. It is recommended to control your blood sugar level on a regular basis to ensure healthy functioning of your kidney. People who have high level of blood sugar and blood pressure are more susceptible to suffer from kidney disorders.
- Quit tobacco: Accumulations of toxins in your body tend to have a harmful impact on not only your kidneys but also on your overall health. It is strictly recommended to quit smoking and using other forms of tobacco to protect your kidneys from damage.
- Reduce weight: Obesity and the problem of excessive body fat are harmful for your body in more than ways than one. Being overweight makes you more susceptible to develop kidney cancer. Therefore, it is advisable to lose a few kilos to ensure the proper functioning of your kidneys.
- Avoid intake of analgesics without prescription: Most analgesics have the tendency to be harsh on your kidneys. Ingestion of analgesics increases your risk of developing kidney cancer. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen are some of the analgesics, which are known to affect your kidneys in the long term. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid taking them without consulting a doctor.
- Include healthy food in your diet: If you increase the intake of green vegetables in your diet, it will help your body to accelerate the process of detoxification. Fruits and vegetables including watermelon, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, apples, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, garlic and onions provide considerable aid in removing the toxins out of your system. However, in case if you are already suffering from kidney disease, this point is not applicable.