Using an AV Fistula

diagram of using an avf

Once you have a healthy, mature AV fistula you are well along the road toward living a good life with kidney failure. The next step is using the AV fistula for dialysis.


What to expect at dialysis

You're not alone if you worry about needles.  It may help you to know that you can use a numbing cream before each treatment, so it won't hurt. In most centers, a skilled nurse will be the first one to try out your new AV fistula.  


When putting in needles goes wrong

Even the best staff person can have a bad day.  A needle can go through your fistula wall and out the other side so blood leaks into your tissues.  This is called infiltration, and it causes a bruise.  Where the needles are placed at each treatment is also key for your long-term fistula health.  


Putting in your own needles & the buttonhole technique

Your fistula will last longest if only one person puts needles in - and you are the only one who is there for each treatment.  Learning to put in your own needles gives you control.  The "Buttonhole technique" uses just one spot for each needle, over and over, at the same angle.  This makes a track like a pierced earring hole.  It's easy to learn and do, and just about pain free.  


Monitoring at the dialysis center

If you go to a center for dialysis, the staff will check your fistula before, during, and after each treatment.  You can - and should - know what they are doing and play an active role. It's your lifeline.  Take charge!  


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