People who develop advanced-stage kidney disease often need dialysis—a treatment where a machine performs a basic function of the kidney—which cleanses the blood. If you need to begin dialysis treatments, your doctor may recommend a minor surgical procedure called an arteriovenous fistula (AVF) or an arteriovenous graft (AVG). These are sometimes referred to as a dialysis fistula or a dialysis graft. Both of these procedures allow extra blood to flow into the vein, making it grow larger and strong enough to accept a dialysis needle.
What is an arteriovenous fistula?
Blood vessels called arteries carry blood from the heart to the body, while veins carry blood from the body back to the heart. When a vascular surgeon joins an artery with a vein, the connection is called an arteriovenous fistula, or AVF. During this procedure, we usually place an AVF in the arm, but sometimes we may place it in the leg.
What is an arteriovenous graft?
If you have advanced vascular disease or a blocked vein, your vascular surgeon may connect the artery and vein using an artificial graft created from a looped, plastic tube. This graft is called an arteriovenous graft, or AVG.
What to expect
During an AVF or AVG surgery procedure, you will have local anesthesia to numb the area where the surgeon creates the fistula or graft.
Recovery after an AFG or AVG
Most patients will recover in the hospital for a few hours and go home the same day as their procedure.