Your kidneys are your body’s filter. If you have a condition that affects their ability to remove waste products from your blood, your physician may recommend dialysis. If you will be on dialysis for an extended period of time, it may be beneficial to have a dialysis graft or fistula implanted.


Grafts and fistulas are permanent access points for patients undergoing long-term dialysis.

A fistula is direct connection between your artery and your vein that promotes blood flow, making dialysis easier. A graft is similar to a fistula, but is created using a plastic connective tube.

Since grafts and fistulas are accessed several times a week for dialysis, scar tissue or blood clots can develop, blocking the site or causing a narrowing of the blood vessels and compromising blood flow.

If you’ve developed a blockage at your graft or fistula site, the Jefferson Surgical Interventional Center can help restore blood flow.

Our interventional radiologists use x-ray technology to evaluate dialysis grafts and fistulas for narrowing, blockages or other issues. If narrowing or blockages are present, we use x-ray technology to guide procedures that re-open the dialysis grafts and fistulas. The procedures we might use to clear a blockage of a graft or fistula, or widen the blood vessels are similar to those we used during angioplasty and vascular stent placement.

Treating narrowing of a dialysis graft or fistula

One of our interventional radiologists will insert a catheter tipped with a small balloon into the graft or fistula site, then inflate the balloon to widen the blood vessel and restore blood flow. The interventional radiologist may insert a stent, a thin mesh tube, to keep the vein open.

Treating a blockage in a dialysis graft or fistula

If a blockage is present in your dialysis graft or fistula site, your Jefferson Surgical interventional radiologist will use X-ray guidance to find the clot and treat it using clot-busting medicine. If the medicine doesn’t dissolve the clot, we may perform a procedure called a thrombectomy. Thrombectomies involves the insertion of a small balloon to extract the clot and removes it from the blood vessel.

Why do I need Dialysis Graft / Fistula Management?
There is an indication that your dialysis graft or fistula is clogged or narrowed and dialysis can’t be completed.
How do I prepare for Dialysis Graft / Fistula Management?
What happens before Dialysis Graft / Fistula Management?
What happens during Dialysis Graft / Fistula Management?
What happens after Dialysis Graft / Fistula Management?

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