Dialysis access and graft declotting
Angioplasty and vascular stenting
Dialysis is a process used to treat patients whose kidneys are not working properly. It involves a special machine and tubing that removes blood from the body, cleanses it of waste and extra fluid and then returns it back to the body.
To undergo dialysis, a physician first creates access to a patient’s blood vessel using one of three methods:
- a fistula, which is made by joining together an artery and vein to make a bigger high-flow blood vessel.
- a graft, in which a soft plastic tube is placed between an artery and a vein, creating an artificial high-flow blood vessel.
- rencatheter access, in which a narrow plastic tube is inserted into a large vein in the neck.
When fistulas and grafts become clogged or narrowed, which can prevent a patient from undergoing dialysis, interventional radiologists use two image-guided interventions to fix the problem:
- Catheter-directed thrombolysis, which dissolves blood clots that build up in fistulas and grafts by injecting a medicine.
- Angioplasty and vascular stenting, which uses mechanical devices, such as a balloon, to open fistulas and grafts and helps them remain open with a small implantable wire mesh tube called a stent.