Kidney Disease

Kidney Disease

You’ve probably heard of cleansing diets, but the truth is that your body has its own built-in cleansers. The kidneys are a significant part of the body’s natural cleansing system. There are two, with each one located on opposite sides of the spine. The kidneys work to remove waste by filtering it from the blood and sending it to the bladder to be discarded. If your kidneys are not working correctly, then the toxins in the waste can cause severe damage to your body. This is known as kidney disease. It can affect your heart, your other organs, and various systems in your body.

There are several reasons why you might suffer from chronic kidney disease, which is developed over time and does not go away. High blood pressure and diabetes are two of the most common causes. High blood pressure will put pressure on the vessels in the kidneys. As more pressure is placed on these vessels, the damage will increase over time, and if left untreated, the affected kidneys can eventually fail.

Hemodialysis Access Options

Hemodialysis, also known as dialysis, is the primary treatment for chronic kidney disease. Dialysis is a process that filters the wastes and water from your blood just as healthy kidneys would. In preparation for the dialysis process, the physician will place a catheter in the patient that serves as an access point to an artery to remove blood for filtration. Through his experience as a highly skilled vascular surgeon, Dr. Leon offers three hemodialysis access options at San Angelo Cardiovascular Center of Excellence.

Arteriovenous Fistula

An arteriovenous (AV) fistula is a procedure that connects an artery to a vein, forcing the vein to grow larger and become stronger over time. Without this added strength, veins are not strong enough to be used for repeated dialysis. Creating an AV fistula is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure; however, it does require several months to mature before use. Despite this time to maturity, AV fistulas are the preferred access method due to less incidence of infection and clotting issues.

Arteriovenous Graft

An arteriovenous graft is similar to a fistula, but a tube connects the artery and vein. Since the tube does not require time to mature and grow strong, this option is typically used for patients in more timely need of starting dialysis. AV grafts can be used within weeks but are more prone to infection and clotting, so this approach is not preferred.

Venous Catheter

For short-term access and for patients who require treatment quickly, a venous catheter may be used. A venous catheter is a thin tube inserted into the neck, chest, or groin for immediate use, if necessary. In some cases, a patient will have a catheter until the fistula or graft matures. Of all three methods, venous catheters are the most prone to infection and clotting issues.